Oyster Magic at Saxon + Parole
A couple of weeks ago, the members of the New York Oyster Lovers Meetup enjoyed a remarkable dinner at Saxon + Parole, under the careful consideration of Executive Chef Brad Farmerie.
Being a long-time Farmerie fan, I had to be there! The way that he transformed a delicacy of the sea into a heavenly custard was nothing short of magical. Our party was situated in the cozy subterranean wine cellar of Saxon + Parole that seemed more appropriate for an intimate family gathering than a meeting of like-minded strangers.
While we all made small talk about our jobs (I was coincidentally sitting next to three other fellow marketing/advertising industry professionals), we scanned over the menu of the evening. Seven courses of pure oyster bliss—well, with exception to the dessert. No oyster there.
The amuse bouche was one of my favorites. A straightforward shot of "Bloody Maria" with a briny, fruity, and plump Shigoku oyster. When most restaurants attempt the oyster shooter, they usually submerge the naked shellfish in a bath of spicy and overpowering brew. However, I quite appreciated this rendition where you were able to enjoy the pure flavors of the oyster first (if you preferred) before chasing it down with the tart and peppery liquor.
The second course arrived with many oohs and ahhs. The Effingham oyster custard with lobster, lime and caviar was layered elegantly on top of one another in a slender double shot glass. This was definitely my favorite of the night in terms of flavor and presentation. The caviar and lobster topping was a sure bet, but the custard really took the cake. The light and airy emulsion took on the very essence of the Effingham. Salty, sweet, with a hint of minerality. It was superb! I couldn't get enough of it, none of us could. To further improve on this dish, I would actually prefer it in a small bowl so that I may lick it clean.
Third course was a grilled Blue Point oyster with Aleppo butter. Also divine! I probably could've eaten a dozen of those if I had the chance!
Next were plates of fried Totten Inlet oysters with shiso, pickled hon shimeji mushrooms and smoked paprika aioli sauce. I think that I've had this creation before from Farmerie at a LUCKYRICE tasting a few years ago. Instead of Totten Inlets though, he used Barron Points (which he claimed were his favorite oyster).
The deeper we get into the meal, the heavier the courses become. At this point, the oysters begin to take a backseat to the creation. The roasted boudin noir with East Beach Blonde stuffing was a hearty course, and while I love anything with a poached egg, it was difficult to detect the oyster flavors in the stuffing. Same with the grilled and chilled tuna with baby romaine, green beans, olives and a Cape May Caesar dressing. It was delicious, but didn't showcase the oyster as well as the earlier courses.
The last course was actually comprised of three dessert items: chocolate & pistachio cake, creme brulee, and a sugar-coated beignet. Total price came to about $90-something after tax/tip were factored in (I didn't order a separate drink), which I feel is pretty reasonable.