REVIEW

Corton

This venue has closed.

Corton the restaurant, a partnership between chef Paul Liebrandt (formerly of Gilt) and restaurateur Drew Nieporent of Myriad Restaurant Group (formerly of myriad different restaurants), is named after Corton, the Grand Cru vineyard in Burgundy. It is odd, then, that the restaurant pairs no white or red Burgundy with its immensely beautiful and creative modern French tasting menus. We think this is revealing. The restaurant’s elegant, understated interior, attentive service and sophisticated presentation are easily of a quality comparable to those of our top 15 restaurants. But the food, however magnificent, slightly underwhelms vis-à-vis these comparison points, and we think the reason is an inordinate effort to venture off-the-beaten path (e.g., “seaweed butter”).

Great chefs are of course to be lauded for taking risks and forging new ground, but with the possibility of creative triumph inevitably comes the possibility of occasional duds. That being said, Liebrandt’s “duds” are still of sufficient quality to merit Corton’s place as the 37th best restaurant in NYC. We think this is a restaurant with a lot of implied volatility and that it could rise or fall significantly in the future depending on the course that is charted.

Corton occupies the distinguished former home of the acclaimed and sadly defunct restaurant Montrachet, named after the most renowned of the white Burgundian Grand Crus. The windowless dining room envelops diners in a womb-like coziness with its sloping, bottom-lit, vine-embossed walls. Adam Platt’s summary cannot be improved on: “icy, Altoid whiteness.” Interesting, then, that the colorful presentations are so exuberantly unbounded by the minimalist aesthetic of the interior. Mannered in the best sense, Liebrandt stages each dish with architectural precision and a true artist’s eye. The food is highly seasonal, with one tasting menu dedicated exclusively to seasonal ingredients and another, more extensive, classic tasting menu. Corton (accurately) self-describes its cooking as melding “the tradition of classical cuisine with a contemporary approach to ingredients and technique”. Liebrandt is also notorious for melding wacky flavors, too, and there is ample evidence of that on exhibition here. The best dishes are the more traditional ones — black bass with frog legs and spring garlic or the spring rabbit, which includes rabbit in three preparations, including a burger and tortellini.

We offer the same advice as for Wylie Dufresne’s wd~50 — even if this kind of high-risk experimental cooking does not instinctively appeal to you, we think that you owe it to yourself to experience it at least once. Corton is already a great restaurant and has the ability to mature into a restaurant of the first order if only Gulliver’s brazenness can be chained down.

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INFORMATION

TriBeCa
239 W. Broadway
New York (nr. White St.)
212-219-2777
Tues-Sat, 5:30pm-10:00pm
    Paul Liebrandt, Chef
    Blake Abene, Pastry Chef
    Orr Reches, Head Sommelier
    Drew Nieporent, Co-Owner

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