Times critic Pete Wells revels in chef John Fraser’s return to civilized dining at the Edition Times Square hotel in a three-star review that raves about “playful, imaginative” fare.
Fraser’s 701West opened in March at famed hotelier Ian Schrager’s latest hotel, and it’s the kind of luxe place where Champagne trolleys roam the room — a “species of restaurant that is no longer in great supply in Manhattan,” Wells writes. But he laps it up, mainly because Fraser, chef de cuisine Rob Lawson, and pastry chef Sébastien Rouxel “make dinner the engaging, somewhat eccentric experience it is clearly meant to be.”
Standout dishes are often the vegetables, which Fraser excels with at his downtown Michelin-starred venue Nix. Wells writes:
Asparagus dipped in aioli is a good idea, of course, but what if the asparagus has been steamed inside a wrapper of thinly shaved cedar until it is nearly as smoky as country bacon? And what if the aioli is enhanced by truffles? It may sound overworked, but it is such a thrill that one of my guests asked for another plate before we could move on to the main courses, throwing the rhythm for the evening right out the window.
The night will pause again if one of the main courses is the sweet potato, as everyone tries to figure out where it got its creaminess and savory depth. Even once you know it’s been sealed up and baked inside a little coffin of sourdough that is streaked with green threads of wakame seaweed, you still can’t quite believe that all this flavor has been achieved with an ordinary sweet potato.
Entrees like lobster aged in beef fat and roasted duck breast “are showstoppers,” too, and desserts have a “lighter-than-air quality.” A buckwheat pastry with parsnip-infused pastry cream is “earthy and ethereal,” while English-pea sponge cake with white chocolate mousse frosting is paired with a “piercing” sour-cherry sorbet.
A rare miss includes the “mystifying” sea urchin and squid-ink risotto, but otherwise the review is full of praise. Three stars.