THE CHEF’S TABLE AT BLACK BARN

Situated directly across from Madison Square Park and somewhat hidden under unsightly scaffolding is the (thankfully) modern rustic design of restaurant, Black Barn.

19 E 26th St.
New York, NY 10010

b/t 5th and Madison Aves.

ATMOSPHERE

The neo-rustic, charmingly chic restaurant in NoMad (North of Madison Square Park) serves as a backdrop for a mostly yuppie crowd. This is an after-work spot if it needs to be; the bar by the front door deems it so, but the large seating area in the back beckons the intrepid to stay a while to indulge in a good meal. The layout is impeccable with its open kitchen aspect; customers can see chef John Doherty and his staff feverishly working over the giant multiple-burner gas stove and preparation areas. As television has shown us time and again with various cooking shows, watching the work is very entertaining, especially when the food happens to be yours.

WHAT I ATE + WINE PAIRINGS

We were treated to an expertly crafted 5-course dining experience with a wine pairing for each dish.

Onion Fondant: Goat Cheese Crostini, Spiced Hazelnuts
Roederer Estate – Brut – Anderson Valley, CA – USA
Lobster Poached in Vanilla Butter: Lobster-Aleppo Pesto Risotto
Kumeu River – Pinot Gris – Auckland, NZ – 2014
Duck Breast Pastrami: Carrot, Cardamom, Shiitake
Abazzia di Novacella – “Praepositus” – Pino Noir Reserva – Alto Adige, IT 2012
Wild Boar Shoulder Bourguignon: Potato, Roasted Parsnip, Apple, Black Truffle, Prunes
Muga – “Prado Enea” – Gran Reserva – Rioja, SP – 2010
Caramelia Chocolate Mousse: Chestnuts, Candied Orange
W. & J. Graham’s – 20 year aged Tawny Port – PT

The onion fondant was a delicious blend of a sauteed onion wrapped around a center of goat cheese crostini, and topped with spiced hazelnuts. The flavor of the lightly sweet onion mingled well with the heavier cream of the goat cheese and hazelnuts.

The lobster poached in vanilla butter and the duck breast pastrami were
tied for my favorite dishes of the evening. The lobster was the most aromatic plate as seafood often is. I wasn’t sure about the dish because the thought of lobster on risotto wasn’t initially appealing, but the moment the combination came together in my mouth I understood. I was shocked that I liked the duck breast pastrami as much as I did because I typically don’t enjoy duck; it tends to be more oily than I like, but it was much more like a perfectly cooked medium rare steak. Accenting with shiitake mushrooms and carrot purée was perfection.

The fourth course, wild boar shoulder bourguignon, was actually my least favorite dish flavor-wise. It had some great concepts, but it clashed with the previous dishes in my opinion. The taste of the forest with stone fruit (apple), parsnips, black truffle, and prunes simply didn’t impress my palate in the way the previous two dishes did.

Dessert was the very decadent Caramelia Chocolate Mousse. It was accented with candied orange and chestnuts. I’m not typically a fan of orange within chocolate, but it wasn’t super strong, a saving grace. It was paired well with and helped temper an aged port that was very sweet.

SERVICE

As this was a chef’s tasting, everything was structured with several attentive waitstaff throughout the experience. Water was always filled, and if you wanted more wine, it took no time. I couldn’t ask for a better experience.

Overall, the restaurant, meal, and service were excellent. Although I wasn’t a fan of one of the dishes, I still recommend the chef’s table experience at Black Barn if you have the chance.