Daring Dining: French Food review of La Silhouette

La Silhouette
362 W. 53rd St. (between 8th and 9th avenue)
New York NY

SOUND- 4.25 stars out of 5; as I walked into the restaurant, I was greeted with the hushed sounds of a small crowd of diners. Before entering the dining room, I sat at the bar and quietly chatted with a friendly couple from New Jersey; I noticed that the audible level was quieter than at most bars which was a pleasant surprise. The dining experience was heightened by a soundtrack of dance songs with a top 40 or hip-hop instrumental mixed in occasionally for good measure. I sensed that the accompanying music was just loud enough to serve its purpose but was relatively quiet so that customers could enjoy the great food.

TASTE: 5 stars out of 5 stars; I am somewhat familiar with the varieties of French cuisine (thank you CUNY for my foreign language education). However, the outstanding mix of flavors and textures simply astounded me at La Silhouette: my taste buds experienced new spices, (cumin anyone?) sauces, (lemon preserve) and who knew that you could put cappuccino in soup? Some of these combinations seemed quirky or even impossible, but everything worked perfectly. My dessert was a prime example of this: having visited New Orleans several times, I consider myself a harsh judge of Beignets. (For more information read the following:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beignet
Here is the best place in the world to order beignets:
http://www.cafedumonde.com/beignet.html) when I was told that these beignets would be filled with mocha cream, I was extremely skeptical because this is not how things are done in the Big Easy. As you might be able to predict, I was proven wrong: the chocolate and coffee of the cream blended seamlessly with the crunch and sweetness of the beignets.

SCENT: I could detect the scent of certain French spices as I sat down in the dining room. As the food arrived, the air was filled with a wonderful mixture of what can best be described as lemon, wine, and perhaps olive oil.

TOUCH: 4.5 stars out of 5 stars: One theme at this restaurant is that all of their chairs are extremely plush: the seats at the bar feature butter soft leather cushioning, and the dining room chairs had cushions which made it very hard to stand up again after dinner. The texture of the food was phenomenal: my soup was topped with an incredible cappuccino foam, and my skate wing was oven roasted: the bottom of the fish soaked up the delicious lemon wine sauce while the top tasted almost as if it had been charred on a grill. Beneath the skate were sweet caramelized onions and diced potatoes whose flavor also resembled the aromatic sauce.

VIBE: 4 stars out of 5 stars; the hostess, waiter, and bar tender were particularly friendly. I asked the waiter several questions (as usual) and he was very informative about the dish which I selected. I enjoyed La Silhouette’s refined but relaxed ambiance

OVERALL: 4.5 out of 5 stars

See below for my full review.
Hello world, I am back! Today I am going to shake things up a little; sorry this will not be a hamburger or barbecue review or even a top ten list. Last weekend I tried out a restaurant called La Silhouette, which describes itself as Haute-French cuisine. This literally means grand cuisine or “high cooking” and it is characterized by French cuisine in elaborate preparations and presentations served in small and numerous courses. If this sounds confusing, I hope that the following review will clarify everything:
I was realistically nervous when I decided to try out this restaurant; after all, I read their menu online and it did not agree with my picky nature. (I like to think of myself as selective) I sat on a very comfortable leather chair at the bar while waiting for my friend to arrive and was given complementary Champagne. What can I say? This seemed like a good start to my evening. One theme of my experience was how friendly everyone was, all the staff treated me with respect and care and the other diners at the bar were outgoing and sociable. It almost felt as if I had stepped out of the crowded, noisy, and fast paced urban city even if only for a few brief hours.
I was treated to more of the same hospitality in the dining room. I snacked on homemade bagel chips while sitting on yet another comfortable chair. After the waiter answered all of my questions, I ordered my dinner. I started with an adventurous choice:
Porcini Cappuccino Soup topped with crêpes crostini (this normally features smoked foie gras but I asked for it to be removed). Please allow me to describe this magical creation to you: a creamy mushroom soup, seasoned with salt, pepper, and other mysterious spices, is topped with an excellent cappuccino foam and a few mini crepes. This soup represents creativity beyond my capability but it was definitely worth the adventure. (I wouldn’t necessarily say the same thing about the price tag, but you only live once.) My bowl was so clean after eating my soup that it was impossible to figure out if there had ever been anything in it! The waiter served me a complementary plate of seared tuna with cumin and other spices. I was daring enough to try it, but I only had a few bites: the fish was nearly raw and the cumin was too overpowering for me.
My entree was outstanding: Oven Roasted Skate Wing served with crushed potatoes, caramelized spring onions, cooked in a lemon preserve emulsion sauce. (For the record, I asked for no fennel) This dish sounded complicated but all of the flavors simply blended together: the skate tasted of the lemon sauce; however, my taste buds were almost fooled into thinking that the top of the skate was grilled. The mix of caramelized onions and potatoes served beneath the fish were the perfect accompaniment and the sauce was light but complex.
You didn’t think I would skip dessert, did you? My friend and I ordered one of my favorite treats: beignets. This dessert contained four small beignets, almost the size of donut holes (they used to be called Munchkins). They were filled with mocha cream and were served with a shot of frozen hot chocolate, which tasted more like a high quality ice cream shake. In addition to this dessert, we were served four complimentary mini desserts: I am still not sure exactly what they were, but all of them were exquisitely designed and delicious. (I think one was a salted caramel and another was a homemade marshmallow)
This dining experience taught me a great deal about Haute French cuisine. I would definitely recommend La Silhouette, particularly for a special occasion. Some of the dishes can be rather expensive, but I strongly believe that we all deserve this type of quality and hospitality.
Dan

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