Haute Spot: Picholine…An Olive by Any Other Name

Extravagance. Opulence. Decadence.

Terrence Brennan opened this elegant restaurant across from Lincoln Center and named it after a green Mediterranean olive. Now two decades strong, after enjoying a redesign of the premises a few years back, Picholine is all the more refined today, done in lush lavender velvet drapes, gray mohair banquettes, a grand chandelier and surprisingly comfy seating.

Chef de Cuisine Jonathan Mailo offers a wide array of flavors that are at once savory and tangy, always with a little extra surprise or kick added on to keep things fresh. The sea urchin panna cotta, for example, crowned with caviar and sitting in a chilled seafood consommé still rules the preludes as does the sweetbreads with celeriac, mushrooms and grapes. Foie gras comes in a unique “shabu shabu” style, cooked in sweet and sour broth with root vegetable pearls. Their skate wing is done as cured pastrami, with red cabbage and a tangy mustard-laced fondue to go with. For the adventurous, order the wild partridge or grouse if available, cooked to tenderness and complete with the menu note, “birdshot may be present.” This is certainly not for the faint of heart or appetite.

The wine list is endless and diverse with selections in every category; the cheese service sublime, all varieties served in a cheese cart filled with extraordinary selections from Welsh Caerphilly to Rogue River Blue from Oregon and Constant Bliss from Vermont. The desserts here are remarkable too, like the pear Belle Hélène in a chocolate soup with almond financier and mascarpone sorbet.