"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well" - Virginia Woolf

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Veritas et Venustas

 Veritas et Venustas

    No doubt the Romans were reflecting on the effects, not the aspects of wine, when they said, "In Vino Veritas." There is however, a nobler truth to be found in great wine and cuisine. A truth both exquisite and genuine. To dine at the recently reborn Veritas, is to taste that truth.

    Joining Patti and I on this excursion is friend and blog wine advisor, Jackie. If anyone knows how to leverage the magic of Vetitas it would be Jackie. We cherish her company whenever she joins us and take unabashed advantage of her knowledge at times like these.

Aaron Zebrook watching over the front of the house.

   Aaron greeted us at the door as if we were expected guests, diplomatically arranging three seats at the bar. While Veritas has become more casual it has not lost its underlying haut service. 

First the Wine

Movia, Veliko Bianco, 2006

"we need to have enough love in our lives to transmit the passion"

Ales Kristancic

   A  fellow Bar Eater, Jackie appreciates wine excursions on roads less traveled. To start, she chose the Movia, Veliko Bianco, a blend of Ribolla, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio. Movia is Ales Kristancic's family's vineyard on the Italian border of Slovinia. Ales is something of a wine rock star with a dynamic personality and an adventurous approach to organic wine making. The Veliko Bianco, was an exquisitely complex, experience; we loved it.

The Space

Extending the possibilities for Bar Eating. 

    Meticulously designed yet casual, Veritas has a warm, welcoming feel. We love the extended bar and the possibilities it opens up for Bar Eating with friends. Credit for the elegantly balanced tones and textures of this room goes to Creme Design of Brooklyn. They have a lot of great work in their portfolio.    

Bartender Jon

   Confined to a more restrained roll than the average bartender, Jon was still a lot of fun. His affable nature made bar conversation a pleasure. A genuinely clever guy, Jon did his undergrad at culinary school and holds a masters in finance, though I suspect the ladies were more impressed with his other attributes. We enjoyed our time at the bar, but were so enthused with the wine that we never got around to trying any of Jon's cocktails.

On to Dinner

 First the Salmon and Tuna Crudo with Citrus, Pomegranate

   The right beginning, a refreshing palate awakener for the meal ahead. Jackie liked it so much she went with it for dinner. I didn't taste the special crab salad appetizer she and Patti shared, but there was a lot of "mmm-ing" going on next to me, while I had my crudo.

Seared Scallops Roasted Cèpes, Sunchoke Puré, Foie Gras

   That's my plate above; rich and delicious, I knew I had to have it, when I saw the guy next to us enjoying his, well before I'd glimpsed the menu. Patti had the Roasted Chicken with Potato Leek Cake, which she found hearty yet elegant.  If you'd like a better look at the food than I can provide with my little camera in dim light, there's a video with Chef Sam Hazen and Pastry Chef Emily Wallendjacks' descriptions at Vetitas Michelin Video

More Wine

Chateau Musar 2002
 Keeping with, organic wines from unexpected places theme of the evening, Jackie chose Chateau Musar 2002, a blend by Gaston Masar, of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault and Carigan. Chateau Musar  is in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon. It hasn't been easy making wine in Lebanon over the years. Which may explain Musar motto "Labor vincit omnia." Patriarch,  Serge Musar's philosophy, "wine must be true, it must be alive and it must linger long enough to infuse into memory." That it did beautifully. 

Orr Reches Sommelier

    We didn't get to meet Rubén Sanz Ramiro, Veritas' head sommelier, but we were ably taken care of by Orr. Being from Israel, he was eager to engage Jackie in some some banter on middle eastern wines.

The depth and breadth of Veritas' wine list is phenomenal.

  No discussion of Veritas would be complete without a little about      
Park Smith. A legend of the wine world, he is one of the greatest collectors alive today and one of the original owners of Veritas.

   Collectors, why do they do it? It must have something to do with possession of perfection. Yet, with wine the cake conundrum applies; to experience it is to consume it. And for we humans, to share that experience makes it all the more rewarding. Perhaps that's why Park opened Veritas to begin with. I've never met the man, but I suspect he would agree with Keats about truth and beauty.


Chef Sam Hazen pours Orange-Vanilla Cream
over Cranberry Bread Pudding with Candied Pecans.

   Sam was very generous with praise of his staff. He wouldn't let us leave without trying some of Emily Wallendjacks' desserts. Bread pudding is a favorite of mine and Emily's is divine. She was preaching to the choir, Patti & Jackie, with her Chocolate Hazelnut Bar.

Bread Pudding happens to be my handle.

The Chef

The girls loved Sam.

   With good reason, Sam Hazen is a very charming man and a very talented one. Great chefs are artists and artisans at the same time, designing and making. Best known for his tenure at Tao New York and then the Las Vegas version, Sam's career is one of depth and breadth. It is obvious that he is at the height of his powers. It is equally obvious that he genuinely cares about what he does. We didn't interview Sam we simply enjoyed his company. (Also, a Bar Eater shout out to Chef de Cuisine, Alexander Williamson, who began his career at Nick & Toni's where Patti and I met.)

   The reviews are in, of this elegant new version of the once venerable Veritas; her three stars restored, the work of artists and artisans at the top of their games.


You will not find what is true in life, if you have not experienced its beauty.

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