Please note that the meal was complimentary. However, the opinions expressed in my blog are 100% my own!
I met Chef Didier Pawlicki at his two other restaurants: Le Village, located in the East Village, and La Sirene that is next to Taureau. Each time, I could sense the true passion he has for food, but also the importance he gives to his patrons, ensuring they would have a good time in what I would qualify as neighborhood restaurants. Yes, this is the way I would qualify all of his restaurants. Maybe it is because of their size, but I truly believe it is because of the atmosphere.
When I went to Taureau, I unfortunately missed Chef Pawlicki. Too bad because this place is all about fondue and God knows I ate lots of it when I lived in France. Cheese fondue? Yes, definitely a lot, especially when I was leaving in Annecy, a beautiful city with a lac, close to Switzerland, whose inhabitants challenge the fact that the cheese fondue came from the neighboring country. I found other places in New York with cheese fondue, but none of these proposed as many choices a Taureau. Fondue Bourguignonne? Aka meat fondue. I may not have looked enough, but I do not recall a place proposing it. And this one brings up lots of memories from my childhood as we often ate a good fondue bourguignonne with my family on Sundays. In fact, I remember that we could buy some meat, specially labeled for meat fondue (piece pour fondue), as well as sauces, my favorite being Americaine and Béarnaise, among the many we had. As a ritual, we always started with my brother and sisters to dip in the very hot oil, some piece of bread; it was a time when people were less health conscious as, as you could imagine, the bread, crunchy, was soaked in oil and bathed in some of the sauces we had on our plates. It was also a time where electric fondue sets or gels did not exist, replaced by alcohol to heat up the pot. Do not worry: at Taureau, there is a heating element on the table, but still, be careful with the hot oil!
So, let me explain to you the menu there. There are two prix fixes: The full village that, for $52 per person will include a cheese fondue, a fondue Bourguignonne and a chocolate fondue, with more choices for each course than the cheaper Eco Village that is $43 per person. I guess now you understand the title of this post... Yes, three different kinds of fondue might seem a lot, but trust me: it is not only manageable, but it is so delicious that you can't stop eating (I suggest a little walk after though).
Typically, we say that, with a cheese fondue, you should not drink water but wine, otherwise the water and the cheese will form a block and it will hurt your stomach. That is for sure an urban legend to convince people to drink wine...So, I went for a glass of Pinot Grigio.
For the first course, the cheese fondue, we decided to go with the traditional Old Swiss, but I admit that I hesitated between this one and the Perigord that has 18 months old parmesan , white American cheese, black truffle mushrooms and truffle oil. This seemed decadent and was probably very flavorful, but, as it was my first time at Taureau, I preferred going for a classic.
The fondue was very good, with not too much garlic or pepper that is what I always appreciate as it can easily overpower the cheese. It came with pieces of bread (they brought some more), as well as some salad to help the digestion, similar to the way lots of restaurants in France would serve it. We also went for some mushrooms that we ordered on the side and that we dipped in the cheese instead of bread.
The second course was the fondue Bourguignonne. For this one, you have different choices to make:
- Oil versus broth. We went for oil as it is the traditional one and picked Canola, again more traditional, over olive oil. If you prefer broth, you can have vegetables or red wine.
- The meat: beef with filet mignon and hanger steak, chicken or pork tenderloin. We went with beef that is again more traditional for a fondue Bourguignonne.
We dipped the meat in the hot oil for 15 seconds to get a medium rare temperature, moving the fork so it would not stick to the bottom of the pot. We then put a bit of sauce over it. The choices of sauces were: Dijon, peppercorn, truffle, Gorgonzola and bordelaise. My favorites being the last three for sure. Both kinds of meat were good, but my preference was definitely the filet mignon that was very tender.
After that was our last course: the chocolate fondue. We had the choice between milk and dark chocolate. We picked the latter.
To dip in the chocolate, they brought us: white chocolate cake, banana cake, banana, pear (one of my favorites), kiwi (not ripe enough), apple and marshmallow. I think dark chocolate was the perfect choice as milk might have been too sweet. This was delicious and, despite all the food we had before, I could not stop dipping in the almighty chocolate...
This was a fantastic meal and I was glad I went to Taureau. This is the kind of places were I would definitely go with a group of friends or whenever I feel like traveling to France for the price of a subway ticket. Chapeau Chef Pawlicki: I will definitely come back and this time try the Perigord fondue!
Enjoy (I surely did)!
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