Master chefs and culinary artists are inspired by their gardens, farms, greenmarkets, & artisanal food makers. Author Leeann Lavin has written a book about the nexus of garden art and culinary art. The blog chronicles the process of producing the first-in-a-series-book: The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook & explores the exciting, burgeoning farm to table movement, food, and local, seasonal, delicious ingredients.
Friday, August 17, 2012
Chef David Burke's Kitchen has a Treehouse Bar
Chef David Burke reigns over his Kitchen Treehouse Urban Garden
Why go out to eat?
Especially when so many of the leading foodie fingers are
pointing gastronomy lovers to the homegrown taste and health benefits of meal
fixings made at home.
And then there is that pesky saving money thing.
You can have it both ways....
There is surely a magical check list of bountiful reasons to
dine out that we all hold dear, not the least of which includes, extraordinary
who’d-of-thought-to-put-these-flavors-together recipes; superlative,
eye-rolling-humming-heavenly taste sensations, along with the charming,
seductive ambience that can turn a date or a milestone celebration or business
exchange into a memorable feast.
With a discerning wink, a practiced authority, and rivers of
irrepressible discovery – it can be an unforgettable event.
And of course, a dedication to using local, homegrown
Or, one can take that list, reduce it to a simple moniker:
Chef David Burke and pocket an outsize culinary bonanza.
Long touted as one of the culinary constellation’s most
whimsical geniuses, James Beard Award Winner, Chef David, is that singular,
shining star: a true thought leader and innovator, who has more talent than
three front lines at CIA restaurant Escoffier – or soon-to-be Bocuse, or any
line up of Top Chefs or any other culinary-cued reference point.
Yup. Chef David can’t seem to contain his creativity. It
oozes out into so many design-fueled channels at his restaurants, including
interior design, garden design, decorating, products, cooking techniques via
his “culinology:” the approach described as one that blends food technology,
food science and the culinary arts.
And of course, his over the rainbow menu creations.
Albeit fearless yet modest and so down to earth, (he’s like
your irrepressible brother or favorite cousin) one can’t help but think he
surely must have his head in the clouds to come up with all this sensuous
fantasy spun around the art of dining.
This abundance of the unexpected makes your head spin. In a
I have reviewed chef David Burke’s Rumson restaurant in the
Garden State where chef launched his cooking career and the opening of David
Burke Kitchen at the St. James in SoHo.
The unveiling of the new Treehouse Bar and the updated Urban
Garden was the cause celebre for the recent Chef’s Table dinner with Chef
David, two of his team: the urbane Joel Ehrlich and master manager, Sheila
Azadan, and select food and drink journalists, including me!
I was delightfully surprised the evening was in fact, an
intimate food celebration.
Up a flight of stairs, one is greeting by the dazzling
rooftop Urban Garden and just like a movie set tableau, there is eye candy all
around – full of textures: gleaming glassware, white tablecloths, Chef
Burke-designed tree branch chairs and tables, curtained alcoves that look just
made for canoodling, and pots and planters brimming with happy, twirling vines
and surprise: herbs and vegetables such as broccoli.
This Urban Garden is like Shoots & Ladders for the
Set above a center courtyard visible below, the Urban Garden
wraps and weaves its meandering vistas all the way up to the Treehouse, laden
with mystery and surprise.
Over there is the outside bar.
Farther back is a chef’s table under a white tent, all set
for a corporate party.Lucky.
There is a massage tent where one can indulge
And a rowboat.
Another set design for Chef David’s creative genius: he
often strings clams or lobsters to create a seafood fantasy.Right there on the roof.
This is not like some West Side Story; rather the look is
cool, downtown chic. And a perfect vantage point to take in the neighborhood
Or make one of your own.
This is so romantic. And whimsical.
There is something deliciously forbidden about being in a
fantasy that is neither here nor there – not city, not garden retreat, but all
that and more.
This is a top rate garden design.
A few more steps up to the Treehouse Bar pinnacle where
croquet awaits, plus another bar is perched there, with tall tables, that are
ideal for cocktails and “Bites,” as Chef David refers to his cornucopia of hors
Friendly wait staff passed the Bites, eliciting more oohs
and ahhs than a Tiffany window display, while patiently answering the foodie
guests’ staccato query of “What IS this?” while trying each success wonder.
The full Bite list deserves to be showcased.
It is a Sisyphean task to recommend one or two as
Why try, when there is a plethora of over-the-top Bites that
deserve tasting. Often.
Chef clearly knows how to thrill his guests and that culinary
talent should not go the way of a mere mention.
Maple Bacon Dates:
corn flake crusted port wine grapes
Foie Gras Panna Cotta:
mango/blueberry beet gelee
squash/chipotle lime cream
Deviled Quail Eggs:
Grilled Bison Kebobs:
Everyone was delightfully satiated.
But wait, there was dinner.
In the Kitchen’s rustic dining room, fronting the real
kitchen. (There was threat of rain later, so management wisely determined
inside. Nice to have the choice!)
Seated family style at one long table the food journalists
and David Burke team settled into an epicurean adventure.
It can be said that food writers can be inured, or even
snarky when it comes to food tastings – after all, they’ve been there; done
that a lot.
Not this night.
Everyone was like a kid at a really good friend’s birthday
And the food just kept arriving.And the wine flowed.
Chef David does it all
Strikingly tasty are the two, non-alcoholic waters David
also created via a partnership with 12NtM.It is fantastic! Like a pisco, or a peppermint, citrus iced
tea with lemonade and raspberry or… it is difficult to characterize because
there is so much flavor.It can be
a cocktail mixer too.A glass is
just 60 calories for eight ounces.
Mayor Bloomberg need not fret about high fructose corn syrup
sodas for citizen of Gotham.
Chef David shared with us that in fact; Hizzoner did give
the drink his two thumbs up. The drinks are available at Burke’s portfolio of
New York restaurants and also at gourmet retailers in town, including Whole
Pan Roasted Scallops: crisp pork belly/summer succotash
The Angry Octopus is a riff on Chef David ever-popular Angry
Lobster.The octopus dish is pure
genius; fiery hot with red cayenne, crisp, and nicely complemented with the
smooth beans and tasty chorizo and pickled radish.This is a must have.
The sweet and savory flavors and textures combined for an
overall taste that rockets the palate.No one can make this at home…
The presentation of the dishes was suburb.Chef David knows the “eyes eat first”
and every serving was constructed like a work of art:too pretty to eat.Nawww!
When dessert was presented, it was just like the fireworks
display at the end – just when you think you’ve seen it all or couldn’t
possibly see another fantasia, there is another clutch your heart moment that
sends one reeling.
Pastry Chef Zac Young
The five confections made by the just-installed, former Top
Chef pastry chef, Zac Young left the foodie table giddy.
The disco blueberries best captured the imagination and
fizzy playfulness of the evening’s charm and Chef David’s trademark style.
In fact, Chef David said these are what got Zac the
better than any ol’Studio 54 to be sure!
The other outstanding, wildly inventive creations were cool,
refreshing, and just this side of nirvana:
Frozen Arnold Palmer:
sweet tea semifreddo/lemon granita/candied wild mint
Key Lime Pie:
roasted local strawberry compote/blackberry sorbet
Farmer Zac’s Passion Fruit Cream Eggs: crème fraiche panna cotta/passion yoke/disco
blueberries. (secret is Luster Dust).Great on ice cream and Greek yogurt next day too. See, everyone asked
for a take away of these bejeweled blue balls
The coffee was made in Chef David’s Rube Golberg-like
contraption that is exquisite to capture, while brewing. It is nothing short of
mesmerizing or intoxicating.
And yet another way that Chef David captures the routine and
turns it all around to make theater of the usual.Salute.
Most of the guests were pleading for it all to stop by this
Surprisingly, I was not filled to the gills, but rather, was
in what quite possibly could be a catatonic state of food bliss.See what good food can do!!
Add World’s Best Host, to Chef David’s list of honorifics.
The final, over the top gesture was the swag bag Sheila
bestowed.Like any kid, we eagerly
perused the goodies:One of Chef
David’s Cookbooks – he has published several.I received David Burke's New
This cookbook is terrific – the format is so creative,
There is Chef David’s rendering or updating of a classic
American recipe, followed by his Contemporary or updated recipe, followed by a
“Second Day Dish” er, Leftover recipe.
Having already made the Meatloaf Bundt Cake with poppy seed
croissant topping, there aren’t any real leftovers to speak of.
Same was true for the Pretzel-Onion Crusted Barbecued
Chicken with Pretzel Latkes, Corn, and Mustard.
Brilliant concept. Brilliant execution.
There again is that “head in the clouds” Willy Wonka
And yet there is no doubt the recipes are firmly rooted in
the good ol’ American hierarchy of let’s get serious cooking vernacular.
Oh, and there were the amazing David Burke steak knives.
Leave it to chef to design and sell individual steak knives that are fashioned
after a chef’s butchering knife.Too cool.
These knives will make a perfect gift to any foodie,
To inhabit “Burke’s World” one suspends everyday reality.
Chef David takes you on a food journey and entertainment
excursion that one is hard-pressed to say is not truly unique.He is unpretentious to a fault.He exudes joy and pride and one is
sincerely impressed by his irrepressible passion to keep reinventing his
He is driven to create.
He never loses sight of the fact that the most important
ingredient is love.
And he clearly Loves what he does.
This chef is relentless in his pursuit of the winsome, fun,
Do go to David Burke Kitchen while the outdoor garden season
Go to any of Chef David Burke’s culinary jackpots to embrace
the reason we celebrate dining out.