Paley’s Place is a casually posh restaurant that serves sophisticated French fare in a romantic, candlelit setting. I describe it as casually posh because the interior was upscale and sleek with dainty tables, but there were also these cozy red couches and an atmosphere of friendliness. Most people there were on date nights. Needless to say, people watching was fascinating.
The restaurant is actually a Victorian home transformed into a fine dining biz, and I knew that I was about to hobnob with some of the most luxurious food in the city. We first received a complimentary dish of grilled flatbread with a white bean puree smeared on top and a topping of fried capers. It was a deliciously light way to start off the meal. In terms of the menu, Paley’s Place had a nice assortment of dishes of varying sizes (some had half or whole options), but the one I picked was hefty enough. And I had already ingested at least six helpings of Ken’s Artisan Bread.
My plate was a hearty braised lamb shank, which consisted of a leg bone of lamb soaked in a soup of light-colored borscht (a Eastern European broth usually made with beets) that was filled with potatoes, cabbage, and carrots. The meat hanging off the bone was exquisitely tender and soft, literally about to fall off the bone. A creamy sauce composed of dill and creme fraiche draped across the bone, and it had a surprisingly pronounced tang of lemon. But after all the heaviness of the meat and soup, the sauce gave the dish a refreshing aftertaste.
However, to me there was a rather excessive amount of creme fraiche sauce. And the plate was not designed well to spoon soup. Other than those things, I enjoyed this dish immensely. Lamb is one of my favorite meats–I love its savory, unique flavor.
But it was dessert that shone as the pinnacle of the meal. Normally I don’t order dessert, but this experience has compelled me to change my ways. I think I would prefer ordering an entree and then dessert versus appetizer and entree. Desserts are difficult to excel at, so Paley’s Place proved its gold with a stunning list of mouthwatering sweets.
The first dessert ordered was the beautiful Rye Blondie Sundae. The best part of the dish was the black tea ice cream–creamy, smooth, and laced with hints of that wonderful English breakfast tea flavor. It topped off a decadent, rich blondie brownie (made of white chocolate, I think, and I tasted some caramel too). Then there were these rye-cocoa Florentines sandwiching a thin layer of Bird’s Milk Cream. Florentines are delicate cookie versions of lace, and they’re often nutty and rich. Bird’s Milk Cream tastes like a buttery whipped cream. (Yet apparently bird’s milk really is a thing–found in pigeons and some flamingoes. Who knows, maybe I was actually just singing the praises of flamingo milk.) The whole presentation was finished with an arrangement of walnuts all around the sundae.
The second dessert was a lighter dessert, less indulgent and cozier. Called the Peach Medovik, a warm griddled honey cake was adorned with roasted peaches and a smooth peach coulis, as well as a small scoop of fresh honey lavender ice cream. The cake had a natural sweetness in its deliciously moist interior while the honey lavender ice cream gave the dish a bit of flair. And in the summer season, who can say no to fresh peaches?
Paley’s Place has been one of my favorite meals of the summer thus far–let’s see what’ll be next!