The Three T’s of Ink.

February 23, 2017

Here’s the problem: the first courses at Michael Voltaggio’s Ink. are so sneakily delightful that by the time the steak arrives, you’re unable to give it the respect it deserves.

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For this is a great piece of meat, beautifully aged and gorgeously seared, filled with that elusive primal beef flavor.  (That little frill of puffed tendon is a nice touch.)

I was also taken with this Japanese red snapper, cunningly peeking out of the mushroom pepper pancake in which it was swathed. The flavor was intense, the textures exciting.

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But alas, I could not do justice to either dish; I’d been too excited by everything that came first.

Voltaggio treats temperature as the third element in his cooking (along with taste and texture). His endive and blue cheese salad is a perfect example:

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This is a simple dish, a familiar combination, but in Voltaggio’s hands it’s entirely new. He’s frozen the cheese, and as it slowly melts in your mouth, you experience the flavors in entirely unexpected ways.

He does something similar with foie gras, freezing it into lovely little curls, then setting it atop radishes and setting it on hazelnut butter.

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Served like this, you experience foie gras as if you’ve never encountered it before.  At first you taste only the hazelnut, but as the foie gras warms up, its flavor leaps forward. There’s a similar textural effect when the crisp crunch of the radish is overtaken by the increasingly soft and seductive foie gras.

The chef also has his way with fried calamari, which arrives looking like some sinister sea monster. But this is the crispest calamari you’ve ever eaten, and after one bite it becomes so irresistible you simply keep on eating.

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Voltaggio’s signature dish is the egg yolk gnocchi, another textural tour de force that goes somersaulting through your mouth, changing with each bite.

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There’s so much here – melting onions, tiny crisp croutons, shaved appenzeller, and then those little gnocchi, which evaporate as your mouth closes around them. This is like onion soup gratinee on steroids – and very hard to stop eating.

Ink. serves exciting food, and it’s a  perfect place to consider when you’ve got a group that includes people with traditional tastes (those steaks!) along with extremely adventurous eaters. The room is dark, casual, and a bit noisy – but the service could not be sweeter.

 

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