Cafe Gray: New York

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By David Heath

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 This wonderful culinary journey culminates in a wide selection of delectable desserts or a seasonal selection of artesian cheeses.

Enter the upscale, mall-like lobby of the Time Warner Center (10 Columbus Circle, New York) and you will question whether you are at the right place to enjoy an extravagant meal. Unexpectedly, the answer is yes, as this tower of culinary excellence is home to three of this city’s top restaurants. You will find one of these restaurants tucked away in the southern corner on the third floor; the Michelin-starred restaurant Café Gray.

At the helm of this magnificent culinary voyage is Chef Gray Kunz. After a six-year hiatus, the celebrated and award winning former chef of Lespinasse (four stars from the New York Times) returned to New York in the fall of 2004 to introduce his first independently run restaurant, aptly named Café Gray.

Nestled in the David Rockwell-designed dining room, diners will experience what is described as Kunzian cusine, an inspired synthesis of seasonal ingredients, Eastern flavors and spices, and European culinary tradition.

Start off this memorable experience with a stunning appetizers such as the signature mushroom risotto, consisting of carnaroli rice finished with truffle butter and served with a fricassee of seasonal mushrooms, or the seared Hudson Valley fois gras and fried quail leg over a salad of pickled ramps, asian pears, and hazelnuts.

Following the appetizers are equally memorable and creative entrees. At the top of this list is Chef Kunz’s signature dish, tender short rib of beef that is marinated and braised for three-days, then served over soft grits and finished with a meaux mustard sauce. If meat is not your thing, then dabble in the success of the skate schnitzel, which is a piece of skate breaded with flax seed sourdough crumbs then sautéed until crisp, and served over creamed parsnips and topped with toasted pumpkin seeds and beurre noisette.

This wonderful culinary journey culminates in a wide selection of delectable desserts or a seasonal selection of artesian cheeses. Of specific note is the caramelized key lime pie with a ground oreo cookie crust, which is caramelized and served with a vanilla schlag and garnished with candied grapefruit zest.

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