No. 1: Alo
The transporting culinary experience of a visit to Alo begins inauspiciously, with a slow ride in an ordinary elevator. And then you emerge into a third-floor oasis of a chic bar and lounge.
Stop for a great cocktail (thank you, Robin Kaufman) or carry on, past the open kitchen and tasting bar, to the elegant adjoining dining room. Settle in, order some Champagne and let the pyrotechnics begin. Now coming up on its fourth year, Alo is more ambitious and more polished than ever. Chef-owner Patrick Kriss’s kitchen team, led by chef de cuisine Nick Bentley, is cooking with the same attention-grabbing finesse with which it started. But the geographic range of influences in its 10-course dégustations keeps building.
Since no one knows where your culinary ship is sailing that night quite so well as sommelier Christopher Sealy, you are best served by opting for his course-by-course wine pairings. Wherever he intends to steer you, the champers will carry you nicely through the amuse-gueules. Expect that array of delicate bites to include a diminutive gougère, a marble-sized pomme soufflé topped with a precious cargo of glistening black Venetian caviar, and a couple of takes on foie gras (invariably one cured cube will be rolled in crunchy rice pearls). And with that, you will very likely bid France adieu for the evening—because Alo’s formative culinary flirtation is of late conspicuously on the wane, supplanted by the allure of Japan.
Photo By: Stephanie Madeira