By some incredible stroke of fortune, I was invited to lunch at Aureole by my friend Michael Schlow. Michael is an incredible chef in his own right, and had recently appeared on the show Top Chef Masters with Chris Lee, the chef at Aureole (and seriously gifted disciple of Aureole founder Charlie Palmer). From the moment I sat down I knew this was going to be special: Aureole is one of the top restaurants in the city and had recently moved into a sparkly new spot in midtown; but more importantly, Chris was cooking for Michael. These former competitors were now buds, and it’s an understatement to say I just happened to be in the right place at the right time to reap the rewards of this new friendship.
Every now and again you have a meal that elevates eating to a much higher level of awareness and discovery that, well, is transcendent. We had 12 courses, each not more than two bites, each paired with a new wine. I’ll try not to fawn here, but everything was beautiful, be it a complex pairing of passionfruit, scallop, foie and brioche or a simple strawberry soup. Enjoy the photos, and I hope they inspire you to go out for one of those “fancy” meals. Too often I find myself dissing high-end restaurants in favor of simple things (both have their merits) like a bowl of pasta at Lupa or fried chicken at Blue Ribbon. If you love food, though, it’s fun to treat yourself to such a creative and indulgent meal like the one I had at Aureole. And I’m now officially obsessed with Chris Lee. He sat down with us as we were beginning dessert, and was so humble and funny about a) opening the new restaurant and b) Top Chef, that I couldn’t help but think this is why we all love chefs. They’re just cool. Afterwards he took us on a tour of the kitchen, a massive operation below the restaurant, and it was amazing to see how many people it takes to pull off what seemed to me like the most polished, highly-constructed but effortlessly executed meal.
Aureole: open for lunch and dinner, visit their website to view the awesomely delicious menus. Note: they have prix-fixes at lunch and dinner, and are offering a 15% discount until September 15th, which is their grand opening.
135 W. 42nd St. Visit www.charliepalmer.com.