I’ve been meaning to try Degustation, which is a small tapas bar in the lower east side. The restaurant is just an L-shaped bar around the kitchen.
I recommend it highly for the entertainment value and ambiance if you’re into the kitchen to table thing, but the food was not nearly as good as I expected given all the rave reviews.
My friend and I ordered a 5 course prix fixe each, but had completely different courses. We had all of this with a big bottle of rosato.
Bagel and lox 7/10: The salmon and creme were great, but I didn’t really understand the “bagel”. It was a fluffy buckwheat pancake. I miss the taste of yeast, which to me, defined that particular element of the dish.
Chicken croquettes 8.5/10: the chicken was so shredded and creamy that I seriously thought that I was eating crab. The outside was incredibly crisp. It tasted a lot lighter than most croquettes.
Kale and roast fig salad. 7/10: Both very well cooked and seasoned. The top few pieces were very crispy, which is a nice textural contrast. From watching them cook it, I’m not sure if that was on purpose.
Roasted beet salad with seaweed puree. 7/10: The seaweed puree is interesting, but not nearly as flavorful as I had hoped. I feel like they could have done a lot more with the concept.
Scallops with oats, and some kind of bean? 10/10: I thought everything was cooked perfectly. The scallops were decadent. The oats were nice and firm, and that bean tasted almost like okra without the sliminess.
Mini paella with fish and chinese sausage 10/10: I’m sure that they did not call this dish a paella, but that’s almost exactly what it was. It was extremely flavorful. I enjoyed every ingredient that they put inside.
Octopus and potatoes 7/10: The potatoes tasted very smokey… they almost seem to be cooked in liquid smoke, because no other part of the potato indicated that it was actually smoked. The octopus was a little rubbery, which was a big disappointment.
Quail! 6/10: This is actually what I wanted to cook for dinner. I watched them make it. Everything about the meat was done perfectly. They even cut it into extremely convenient pieces. However, it was way over-salted, and the savory bread pudding stuffing tasted only slightly more moist than one of those nightmare Thanksgiving stuffings. I only ate it because the quail was so salty!
Chocolate mousse 6.5/10: Maybe I’m being a little harsh. The chocolate mousse was chocolaty and light, and the berries were sweet and delicious… but there was literally no innovation here.
Brioche bread pudding 10/10: Easily the best dish we had. It’s an ugly little piece of brioche sitting on 2 slices of grapefruit. The top was charred. It was so sweet… the outside was nice and caramelized, and the inside was gooey, soft, and tasted like creme brûlée. It’s only the 2nd bread putting that I’ve ever liked.
Overall, I’m glad that I finally got to try Degustation. The food was not as light as whimsical as the decor might suggest. The quality from course to course was somewhat inconsistent. I like the food better than a lot of New York places at this price point… but this not the best choice for a long dinner. It may be difficult because of the limited seating, but I’d just drop in for the paella, scallops, and brioche bread pudding.