Dinner at Fishtail by David Burke: a review

Chef Sylvain and me

Dining room with aquatic lamps and Warhol lithograph

Stairwell with Ayoub glass sculpture

First course – oysters (Naked Cowgirl and Mermaid Cover), clams and shrimp with cocktail sauce and mignonette.

Second course – pastrami salmon with potato cake, capers and mustard

Third course – scallop with quail egg, purple cauliflower, eggplant and mustard vinaigrette

Presentation of the salt-encrusted Branzino

Entree – Branzino with tapenade, spinach, grapefruit and baby carrots

Dessert – gluten & dairy free cupcakes with pineapple peppercorn sorbet

Happily chomping on a cupcake

Author (blogger) in front of Fishtail

When I met Chef Sylvain Delpique back in April at Sur la Table, he invited me to come to his restaurant, Fishtail by David Burke.  After interviewing Chef Sylvain last week and discovering how much experience he has dealing with food allergies, Therese and I were excited about having dinner at Fishtail last Saturday night.

The upstairs dining room is decorated with a good deal of whimsy, from the fish paintings and Warhol lithograph to the lamps with shades like undulating water and finials shaped like clam shells and fish.  There’s even a glass sculpture hanging in the stairwell that looks like buoys made by Chef Michael Ayoub.

Before our dinner began, Chef Sylvain came by to say hello.  We had been looking at the menu and getting some ideas, but when he offered to put together a dinner for us, we jumped at the suggestion.

We began with glasses of Trevisiol Prosecco.  And a plate of oysters, clams and shrimp from the raw bar with cocktail sauce and a nice mignonette sauce with champagne and red wine vinegar.  That was a nice tasty start, but it was after this that things really got interesting.

My appetizer was one of Chef David Burke‘s signature creations, Pastrami Salmon, on a potato cake with capers and dijon mustard.  Therese had a pretzel-crusted crab cake.  Both dishes were wonderful.  The salmon tasted smoked but it also tasted like pastrami, and the fish, the crisp of the fried cake and the sharp taste of the dijon complemented each other perfectly.

The next course was a scallop with a quail egg on top on a bed of purple cauliflower and eggplant with mustard vinaigrette.  That scallop was the most perfectly cooked scallop I’ve ever had.  The outside was just seared enough to have a little crisp to it, and the inside was cooked just enough so that the scallop wasn’t runny or rubbery, and it was full of flavor.  Probably my favorite part of the whole meal.

Finally, we arrived at our entree.  One of the guys from the kitchen brought the branzino to us straight from the oven, still in its crust, which was really cool.  Then he took it away to filet it and make our dishes.  What we ate was the branzino on a bed of spinach with an olive tapenade on top and pieces of grapefruit with baby carrots.  Intellectually, the grapefruit didn’t make sense to me, but it actually helped to provide a counterpoint to the rest of the dish, brightening it up a bit.  And while we had continued drinking prosecco to this point, for the fish we switched to a nice Pazo señorans albariño.

Chef Sylvain had told me that his pastry chef Genevieve Meli makes a mean gluten-free dairy-free cupcake, and sure enough, that was my dessert – 3 cupcakes and a nice scoop of pineapple peppercorn sorbet.  The sorbet was a palate cleanser of sorts, and led me into the pure joy of munching on the cupcakes – one was blueberry with cashew butter icing and the other was strawberry peach.  They were so good – the cake had good flavor and texture, and the toppings were incredibly rich and satisfying.  I couldn’t finish them all, and happily took one home with me.

Before leaving, we stopped in the kitchen to thank Chef Sylvain once again and compliment him on an excellent meal.  We look forward to returning to Fishtail in the near future – perhaps for Sunday brunch with our daughter and her fiance.

I cannot overstate how thankful I am to Chef Sylvain and his staff, especially to our waiter Tim and the manager Nathan and pastry chef Genevieve, for helping to create such an enjoyable and memorable evening for us.  As I continue to explore restaurants and meet new chefs in my quest for exceptional dairy free food experiences here in New York City, Chef Sylvain and Fishtail is the standard against which I will measure other chefs and restaurants.

About Karl Peterson

Karl Peterson is an avid traveler, passionate about food and food-related entertainment, completely allergic to dairy. He is founder, owner and principle contributor to "The Dairy Free Traveler" blog. The Dairy Free Traveler perfectly dovetails two of his greatest areas of interest: traveling near and far, and searching for great cuisine (especially dairy free!) The Dairy Free Traveler publishes original material about the dairy free lifestyle, eating the best food in the most interesting destinations around the world. Karl's tours take him from thriving New York City, to exotic Marrakesh, to elegant Paris bistros -- (yes! even Parisians have gotten on the dairy free bandwagon.) The Dairy Free Traveler himself also engages with independent dairy free food producers, highlighting new dairy free product launches and events that support dairy free entrepreneurs. Peterson is among the top 7 most widely read TripAdvisor reviewers in New York City and is repeatedly cited as a Top Contributor at TripAdvisor.com. His reviews have garnered more than 542,000 readers -- half in the U.S., and half among the many countries he has visited around the world. Beyond writing this blog, Peterson is a published author, with contributions to "Savoring Gotham" edited by Andrew F. Smith (published 2015 by Oxford University) and the forthcoming Oxford Companion to Cheese (a bit ironic, yes, but a professional is often asked to stretch beyond their comfort zone!).
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  1. Pingback: Sunday Brunch at Fishtail by David Burke with the kids | The Dairy Free Traveler

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