We had been doing the Restaurant Week road show for the past couple of weeks and decided to try one off that route – perhaps a special place that might otherwise be hard to get into on a Friday night. We had just read that Sbraga was named by Esquire magazine as one of the best new restaurants in the country, so, we decided to give it a shot.
Overall, it did not disappoint. The food was very good, especially for the value at $49 per person. We asked our waiter what the signature dishes were from each part of the menu: we tried all three – fois gras soup, a blue fish dish with bok choy and apple and meatloaf in a hazelnut crust. The fois gras was soup was very tasty and not too rich (as we were worried it might be). The meatloaf was a big surprise; the flavors exploded in your mouth. The blue fish was good but the lesser of the three.
We ordered three other dishes: a shrimp bisque that had a crunchy popcorn added to it (butternut and tapioca), a pumpkin tortellini and a lamb dish with brussels sprouts and peanuts. The first two were the highlights. We opted not to do the wine pairing and opened with a nice but very light rose from Italy and finished with a firm red from the Cotes du Roussillon. This wine was a wonderful blend of Syrah and Grenache and may have had a bit of Carignan added. It was perfect with the meatloaf and the lamb – and was very nice with the tortellini as well.
For dessert, we had the rum raisin rice pudding and the birthday cake crumbs. We shared a glass of Rivesaltes – firm Grenache after dinner drink that was recommended to have with the pudding but went particularly well with the chocolate that was part of the birthday cake crumbs.
We were very pleased with the food experience and felt this was the best meal we had over the past two weeks (we’ve been to six different restaurants). But the service was a little spotty. Our waiter was very knowledgeable about the food and the recent changes to the menu. And he described the different wines we asked about perfectly. But there was a slowness in service that was surprising for a restaurant of this stature. Once we received our menus and a description of the different dishes, it took about 15 minutes for our waiter to return to take our order. It felt like nearly 30 minutes went by before we had the delicious bread delivered to our table. Getting our check took some extra effort as well.
Fix the service flaws and this is indeed a top newcomer. It’s worth a visit with even the service missteps we mention. But if they iron those out, this place is a real keeper for years to come.
Now, to the title of this review for a moment - David Bouley, like Ken Sbarga, is an American-born chef. Both prepare dishes that are breathtakingly beautiful when they arrive at the table. Both have that real sense of texture and and don't bombard you with too many flavors on the plate. And they don't try to trick you by serving appetizers, for example, that look like dessert. Bouley is more French inspired. Sbarga is more American cuisine (how many higher-end restaurants do you recall that serve meatloaf?) What brings them both together is their inventive approach to food that mixed complimentary tastes so well.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.