Last month for my birthday, Rocky offered to take me out and buy me dinner at a restaurant of my choice. I decided to go with something new that neither of us had tried. After a little back and forth I chose to visit Little Elm, the tasting counter at The Elm in Williamsburg, to see what Chef Mazen Mustafa is cooking.
Following up a wonderful birthday lunch, a stop at the bar at the NoMad, and a quick nap at home, we made our way across the water to the King & Grove Hotel, home of The Elm. We checked our coats, dried off from the rain a moment, took our seats, ordered a bottle of bubbles, and got the party started.
An amusing trio to begin:
Sweet and tart, delicately crisp sea buckthorn.
Parmesan crisps dusted with acidic tomato powder.
Red miso financiers with yuzu ricotta. A nice savory/sweet/sour bite.
Black Bass | Hon Shimeji. A crudo of bass with pickled hon shimeji mushroom, caviar, radish, and dashi gelee. Great intensity of flavor without being too strong. It would have been nice to have another utensil; eating this with the large fork was brutal.
Foie Gras | Black Trumpet. A solid dish. Super smooth foie gras topped with gelee of black trumpet mushroom spiced with peppercorn, accompanied by compressed apple, celery root and sake puree, and a perfectly toasted slice of thai long pepper brioche.
Nantucket Bay Scallop | Tom Yum. The first service of the scallop was a crudo topped with shaved marcona almond, shio, and kombu. Not sure what the marinade or dressing on the scallop itself was, but it was superb. Effing amazing little dish all around. Even the savory aroma was intoxicating. Easily my favorite course of the meal.
Nantucket Bay Scallop | Tom Yum. In the second service of the scallop, they were roasted and served with ricotta gnudi, tom yum sauce foam, and lime zest. The pairing of the scallops with the gnudi was very nice. Though the mild lingering heat didn’t quite balance and for me the citrus in the plate stood out against the richness instead of calming it.
Lobster | Brown Butter. The first lobster plate was roasted Maine lobster tail with heirloom beets, tomatillo puree, and a bizarre but strangely good black garlic balsamic reduction. The beets were very nice though I didn’t quite understand them with the lobster. The tomatillo was far too spicy for my midwest white boy spice tolerance.
Lobster | Brown Butter. The second lobster dish was torchietti pasta with tomato and pork ‘XO sauce’ over a huge chunk of lobster mitt. A pretty solid pasta dish with a good level of lasting heat.
Elysian Fields Lamb | Eggplant. A very fatty, overly rich cut of lamb neck served with eggplant, radish, a very nice mix of quinoa and almond, and a strong sauce.
Stichelton | Pear. Stichelton blue cheese with textures of pear, vadouvan spices, and mustard oil. A great composed cheese course. The creamy spicy blue with the pear along with some riesling auslese was fantastic.
Puff Pastry | Popcorn. Damn. This was a kick ass little dessert. Popcorn mille-feuille with a little apple. Rocky and I saw a much larger version of this plate go out to the dining room a few times and we’ve been talking of returning for it since.
Chocolate | Berry. A small bar of chocolate feuilletine cake covered in dark chocolate alongside some huckleberry jam and a quenelle of huckleberry and red fruit sorbet. Delicious.
Petit Fours. Green Chartreuse cream puff. Smoked cookies & cream financier. Yuzu ricotta chocolate. Thai tea canelé. Coffee cardamom canelé. Black cherry pâte de fruit. The financier, chocolate, and pdf were tasty. The Chartreuse cream puff was superb, light and almost fluffy with a good dose of the herbal flavor I love. The canelés, while flavored well, were abysmal. Terribly textured and tasting almost of raw egg inside, I have to wonder if anyone tasted this batch before serving them.
Some wines we were served:
Overall a fun and memorable birthday dinner. I look forward to returning to The Elm to try their burger and have a giant popcorn mille-feuille.
Date of visit: February 20, 2014
Little Elm. 160 N 12th St. Brooklyn, NY 718.218.1088 theelmnyc.com