Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Date Night at The Four Seasons

Cotton Candy -- The Four Seasons Restaurant
The Four Seasons Restaurant

The first thing you need to know about our experience at The Four Seasons is that we spent a solid minute of our dinner convinced that the place serves $2 glasses of wine.
Apparently, We Believe This is a Mexican Beach Bar
Yes, somehow we convinced our not-exactly-quick-firing brains that an establishment whose entrees cost upwards of $75 is a bargain basement for alcohol.  How did we come to this conclusion, you may ask?
Here's a Hint: We're Idiots
While perusing the gargantuan Bible that The Four Seasons calls a "wine list," we mistakenly read the PAGE NUMBERS listed in the book's Table of Contents as the PRICES.  Yes, that's right -- we genuinely believed that The Four Seasons served $2 glasses of champagne, $5 glasses of burgundy, etc.  Did we ever stop and think, "Hmm, why are these numbers listed in ascending order?" or "Hmm, why are the  glasses of wine on the first page so much cheaper than the ones on the second?"  No.  Instead, we were too busy calculating exactly how many Happy Hour cocktails we could consume for the price of one single bottle.
Hooked on Phonics Didn't Work for Us
Needless to say, we have never been more grateful that our slow-but-not-completely-absent deductive reasoning skills kick in, and that we figure out the error of our ways BEFORE our waiter comes back for our drink order.
We Don't Deserve to Be Trusted with Such Glassware Delicacies
We are at The Four Seasons to celebrate Ginger's birthday, and thus to receive the cotton candy that the restaurant serves gratis for all "special occasions."
Cut To: Every Single Table in the Restaurant Featuring a Mound of Cotton Candy. "Special Occasion," Indeed
Unfortunately for Ginger, she nearly missed her celebration all together, as she was too busy loitering outside the Four Seasons HOTEL on 57th Street to notice that the Four Seasons RESTAURANT is located five full blocks away (and apparently has no affiliation with the hotel whatsoever).  Stumbling into the joint ten minutes late, she finds Vodka sitting at what is obviously meant to be a "date night" table -- a side-by-side booth with a "romantic" view of the pool.  

"First of all," Ginger begins.

"First of all?!" Vodka interrupts her.  "We are already on AT LEAST 'eighteenth of all.'"

As the location where our own culinary icon, Bethenny Frankel, got married, we have learned that The Four Seasons is some sort of New York institution (which we find a bit odd for a place boasting palm trees as decor).
This Is Very Polynesian Resort, Disney World, No?
And, true to form, we are racking up the 'moron points' by the minute at this place, and we are not sure how we will survive long enough to procure Gail Simmons's Best Thing I Ever Ate CHILDHOOD FAVORITE choice at the end of the meal.  We have come to realize that places whose Best Thing I Ever Ate specialty is a dessert really have the odds stacked against them when it comes to us, as the chance of us staying in a good mood throughout an entire meal is not always the easiest feat.  Thankfully, The Four Seasons is off to a rousing start, mostly due to the fact that their heaping bread basket is already on the table.
Batting 1,000 in Carb Calories
Unlike the perpetual hunt for the bread boy that disrupted our dinner at Le Bernardin, an overflowing platter of rolls appears on our table seconds after Vodka sits down, along with a miniature bowl full of heirloom cherry tomatoes.
At First, We Are Perplexed by This Food Choice... Until Our Bowl Wound Up Empty
As there is no surer way to our hearts than plying us with free food within moments of our arrival (except, perhaps, plying us with free liquor), we are instantly convinced that this place has it all over Le Bernardin in terms of winning our affection.
See How Easy We Are to Please, Le Bern?!
Once we figure out how to, you know, READ the overwhelming Torah of wines, we order an Australian sauvignon blanc, chosen primarily because it was one of the cheapest (at $65) bottles on the menu.
No Wonder This Thing Has a Table of Contents
As we sip (read: guzzle) our wine, we sample every single one of the rolls placed before us.  While we heavily favor the miniature croissants, the white and raisin rolls are also pleasing -- at least they are when we slather them with our typical gobs of butter ("It was kind of them to provide us each with our own slab").
Hoarding Bread Products
The whole wheat roll, which is so chewy it verges on being stale, is decidedly the miss in this arrangement, but being that The Four Seasons replenishes both our bread basket and our cherry tomato bowl minutes after we have emptied them, we are more than willing to overlook such disappointments.
And Here We Have ROUND 2!
The Sad Part Is That They Ended Up Refilling Our Butter Dish, Too
For our appetizers, the birthday girl orders the caesar salad, which is prepared tableside, and Vodka chooses the corn ravioli, which comes with rock shrimp and chanterelles.  After our waiter (of which we have ONE, and who is NICE TO US.  Hint, hint, Le Bernardin) finishes creating the salad, he walks away from our area without serving it to Ginger.
Um, Mister -- Hand It Over
"Is this some sort of buffet now?" she asks, as we seemingly have the patience of baby birds when it comes to waiting for our food.  The waiter returns with Vodka's ravioli and hands Ginger her caesar salad, and we prepare to dig in.

Well, Ginger prepares to dig in, while Vodka yells at her not to touch anything until the photographic evidence is complete.
After All of This Time, You Would Think She Would Learn
After the shots have been taken, Vodka says to Ginger, with absolutely no affect, "You can eat now.  Happy Birthday."
We Should Really Have the Mental Asylum on Speed Dial
The salad proves to be worth the wait, featuring crisp greens, tangy from the dijon mustard and  smothered with a hearty portion of parmasean cheese.  It is without a doubt one of the best caesar salads we have tasted, and believe us -- we know our way around a caesar salad (really, what part of a salad whose primary ingredients are "cheese" and "croutons" could be displeasing?).
Yellow Tinge Courtesy of an Ambitious Serving of Mustard
Vodka's corn ravioli are similarly delicious.  Three thick pasta bundles sit sprinkled with perfectly cooked tiny shrimp and laden with mushrooms, and effusing a delicate scent of truffle oil.  The corn is sweet without being overpowering, and the sauce is so delectable that Vodka uses the rest of our second bread basket to scoop it into her mouth.
Though Before You Think We Have Made Complete Pigs of Ourselves, We Did NOT Require a Third Bread Basket
"This place is great," Ginger comments as we await our entrees.  "Why would anyone ever go to Le Bernardin?"
We Are Here to Right the Wrongs of the New York City Culinary Scene
For the main portions of our dinner, Ginger picks the Maryland crabmeat cakes with mustard sauce, and Vodka the roasted halibut with vegetables and tamarind sauce.  The crab cakes are lightly breaded (though apparently not lightly enough for Ginger, who picks around most of the outer portion in order to consume only the (more than plentiful) crab meat).
Olympic-Sized Swimming Pool Helping of Mustard
The rest of the plate features a side salad, beet chips, and a hearty portion of mustard sauce ("There is a theme to my meal and it is mustard").  Despite the fact that the crab cakes include not one but two particles of crab shell, Ginger enjoys the dish.
Either Ginger Has Very Sensitive Teeth or Restauranteurs Across the City Are Intent on Serving her Bones & Shells
On the other side of the table, Vodka is neatly shoveling halibut into her mouth. Indeed, the halibut, for Vodka, is one of the best fish dishes she has ever tasted.  Thick and meaty, it manages to remain refreshing despite its chicken-like consistency.
Tastes Like Chicken.  No -- Really -- It Tastes Like Chicken
The exterior of the fish has a slight crispiness, while the inside is flaky and moist, and it all melds perfectly with the mattress of vegetables on which it rests.  The tamarind sauce is quite wonderful, and if there is any flaw in the dish, it is that it could have used some more of it.
We Pretty Much Like Our Sauces Like We Like Our Bread: Plentiful
By the time our plates are removed from the table, we are approaching the point of "uncomfortable fullness."  In truth, Ginger has passed that point a long time ago, as her dress is so tight around her lungs that she has been unable to take a deep breath all night (in contrast, as she pulls at the dress's billowing midsection, she notes, "Luckily, it leaves lots of room for stomach").
"It's Nice of The Four Seasons to Provide a Barf Bucket on the Table"
Despite the certain overstuffed doom that is slowly descending upon us, we pioneer on to order the strawberry shortcake to share for dessert.
Because The Best Idea When Reaching the Point of Vomiting is Always to KEEP EATING
In retrospect, this proves to be beyond faulty reasoning, as our dessert ends up including not one but FOUR plates of sweets on our table:

1. the strawberry shortcake
2. a complimentary bowl of sorbet
3. a complimentary "treat tray," and finally,
4. the whole reason we are here in the first place: the complimentary "special occasion" cotton candy

As if all of this were not enough, The Four Seasons also provides us each with a free glass of dessert wine, as if to say, "Just try to give us anything but 5 stars now, boozers."
Well Played, Four Seasons. Well Played
In truth, once the giant mound of cotton candy appears before us, complete with a birthday candle at the top for Ginger, the other plates of food disappear from our consciousness (though the glasses of dessert wine barely leave our hands, naturally).
"Happy Birthday to -- Wait, I Need to Take a Picture"
We begin hacking at the thing immediately, forcing entirely-too-large-for-our-mouths balls of cotton candy onto our tongues.  While we were never exactly connoisseurs of cotton candy in our youth, we doubt that any kind featured at the Ringling Bros. Circus could compete with The Four Seasons's variety.
The Beginnings of the Massacre
Softly spun and perfectly sugary, it somehow refrains from becoming the sticky goo into which most cotton candy inevitably transforms.  Sprinkled on top of the pink mountain of sweetness are lavender candies, and hidden underneath is a scoop of strawberry ice cream (which Ginger is convinced is not present at all, so she reaches her entire hand into the bottom of the pile to prove her theory... and it returns smothered in ice cream).
Lavender Candy, Prepare for Your Close-Up
Believe It Or Not, This Ice Cream Looked Even Less Appetizing Once It Was Mauled by Ginger
Frankly, we probably could have done without the ice cream, as it is so melted by the time we reach it that it is practically a moot point.  The cotton candy, however, we cannot get enough of.
Though If It's All the Same to You, Four Seasons, Please TURN THE LIGHTS BACK ON
"We are probably going to be the only two people in the history of The Four Seasons to FINISH the cotton candy," Ginger surmises.  "Although those kids over there are doing pretty good.  We have to beat them."
Preparing to Dive Face-First Into the Cotton Candy Ball
As it happens, the children who are present at various tables across the room do not seem to be enjoying said cotton candy nearly as much as we are (perhaps because The Four Seasons dress code forces boys to wear jackets and ties ("If I were a kid and had to wear a jacket and tie to dinner, I'd off myself."  "If you wore a jacket and tie as a kid, you'd have had bigger problems to contend with.")).
The Slow, Depressing Deflation of Spun Sugar
Eventually, however, even our hearty appetites cannot make it through the full cotton candy portion, and we can barely even think about finishing the other three bowls of dessert before us.
Oh No -- What Have We Done?!
We Can't Believe We're Saying This, But TOO MUCH FREE FOOD
You Know It's a Dire Situation When We Can't Even Finish the Treat Tray
We take half-hearted tastes of the coconut, passion fruit, and berry sorbets and reluctant bites of the items from the treat tray before abandoning our quest all together, due to the threat of imminent nausea.
Someone Pass the Barf Bucket
Ginger asks to have the strawberry shortcake, which we have barely touched, wrapped up to go, and Vodka asks the waiter to include the treat tray items along with it.
Truth Be Told, She Would Have Taken the Sorbet, Too, Had She Had a Cooler on Hand
When the waiter returns, we do not find the seven half-eaten items from our treat tray in the bag.  Instead, our waiter has filled an entire container to the brim with brand new treat tray items, all to "stock the dorm rooms" of us "college students."

So just a second -- you think we're still in college AND you just handed us a free box of cookies?!

The Four Seasons is our new FAVORITE PLACE EVER.
Other New York City Eateries: Please Take Note
We pay our bill without incident and skip out of The Four Seasons happily, Ginger slightly more weighed down by the bushel of desserts she is carrying.  Feeling more youthful and decidedly more fat than usual, we are filled with glee over the fact that our faces still sport the collegiate look.

If only our own college had managed to teach us how to properly utilize a Table of Contents.

The Four Seasons Restaurant's Cotton Candy: 5 stars*

*Certifiable Best Thing We Ever Ate


  1. That sounds amazing! It's nice to know there are still some all around excellent restaurants out there.

  2. This was awes!!! (which is short for awesome)(ps-you can't spell roCKstar without CK.)