It's been a while, but here's a write-up from Jimmy.
Degustation has been my favorite restaurant in the city for years. It naturally has a spot in our regular restaurant rotation. The food is best described as “modern Spanish”. It’s not obnoxiously avant garde, but definitely not conservative, and very well-executed. Service is extremely proficient; unexpectedly so given how casual the restaurant is, with all the diners seated at a bar facing the open kitchen rather than at tables.
We went with a 10-course tasting menu. At $80, it’s a very good deal in its category in the city. There had also been some changes in the kitchen, and we were interested in seeing how things had changed since we’d last been. The results were quite good; none of the dishes we had were anything that we would have been surprised to see on previous visits, but in aggregate the dishes leaned much more toward the interesting end.
The differences in the food were evident from the very beginning. The first course featured a fine little croquette and a miniature Spanish tortilla with the egg still runny, both familiar to us. The oreo-looking bit at the left, though? That was actually a savory cookie with black olive and monkfish. It used to be a nibble of fried fish skin that was just as strange but not nearly as good. The foam in the second course hid an oyster, but also gin gelée, giving it the flavor of a gin fizz; a perfect pairing for me, though less so for Alice.
Other highlights in the meal included an egg course that unexpectedly featured sunchoke puree instead of egg, giving a lovely burst of unexpected flavor. The fish course was a wonderfully fatty piece of sturgeon accompanied by tapioca pearls (like caviar, get it?), the most rich and delicious piece fish I’ve had in ages.
It shouldn’t be much of a surprise, then, that this is a restaurant we go to frequently. It’s the perfect mix of casual environment, accomplished food, polished service, and easy walking distance from our apartment. I had to go grab some junk food while writing this, because thinking about the meal was making my mouth water too much. On the strength of this meal, I’d rate Degustation as one of the most overperforming restaurants in the city right now; the ambience is casual enough, but the food is grown-up, creative, and interesting in a way that far too few other restaurants in New York are any more.