Compose…big thumbs down!
Not sure where I read about Compose but going there seemed like something I needed to do. I tried to get reservations on Open Table for a few days, 30 days in advance, and couldn't get in. Supposedly the restaurant only has 12 seats but actually that isn't true. That was the first thing I noticed that wasn't what I expected. From what I remember reading I had expected some brilliant chef who was creating a tasting menu that was creative and delicious. Think of Grant Achatz or Thomas Keller or even elBulli. Ok, maybe I am getting carried away here but you get the gist.
Before I get into the pictures and the dishes, keep in mind that the food was sub-par, sometime down right terrible and was beyond disappointing. After reaching out to my friend Ben to see if we could secure all 12 seats with a group of our food friends and take over the restaurant, I left extending an invitation to the group for another dinner, on me, to make-up for the experience. He couldn't secure 12 seats but he could get 10 because supposedly someone had booked two seats way before us. Meanwhile there was 2 extra seats at the bar and many seats behind the bar so in essence the place actually feeds about 24.
The best summary of the night came the night morning from our friend Stuart who sent this email out to the group:
I had the craziest dream last night! I was in tribeca of all places.
There was an unseasoned chef. And a tasting menu. And one uncompelling
dish after another. And then then the bill came and you'll never
believe me when I tell you how much it was. Seriously. I'm just glad
it was a dream. And funny enough, you all were there
Here is what we ate. We began with small bowls of heavy handed rosemary popcorn.
We sat down and our first taste was called Kir Royale. A jello shot that conceptually was to be a cocktail but the taste was bitter.
Next out was the baked potato. This was one of the best dishes by far and nobody is reinventing the wheel here. A tiny baked potato topped with caviar and a side spoonful of creme fraiche.
This was called Ocean Sphere. An oyster emlulsion that you toss down your throat. Kind of like an air ball.
Here is a roasted singular baby beet with slices of jerusalem artichoke and sharred onions. One thing is nice that each dish was served with a small glass of wine for pairing.
Thick sliced fluke wrapped around wild puffed rice and smoke grapes.
Jonah Crab seasoned with spring onion, garlic and cumin sitting in a yuzu sauce and a dollop of sea urchin on top.
Diver scallops with shaved fennel, bacon and dill.
Poached Maine Lobster in a lemon cream, a small bit of caviar and a lingering taste of cocoa butter.
Small poached egg mixed together with cauiflower, oyster mushroom, artichoke and a cocoa nib. Overwhelming tasted like chocolate. The cheese roll in the background was crusty and a welcome addition.
This was the other good dish. Roasted pork, served medium rare with a red cabbage dish with a few pine nuts on the side.
I can't figure this one out but the orange sauce was overwhelming and awful.
This was the first of three desserts. A sorbet mixed with shavings of something. LIterally this tasted like Windex.
A oatmeal like cookie on the bottom and then layers of different textures of sweets. Not sure why it was necessary to put an egg in here.
Lemon cookie like a macaroon stuffed with a cold cream.
The bill was so absurdly expensive we all were aghast. The food was just not good. For that price, the food should be one of the best meals I have ever had in my life, seriously. I think Per Se was less money. Although I give the chef kudos for creativity and presentation I seriously wonder if he ever tasted what he was serving or if he did then his taste buds for sublime tidbits of extraordinary food are not cut out for this. I did ask what his background was and he really had not put in the time to get to where he is. Not to say that everyone has to because some people are just born to be brilliant chefs. Sadly, this guy was not. Go back to school, go work under some chefs that know how to create delicious food. The presentation is nice but if it tastes bad then what is the point?
The good news is the crew we had dinner with on Friday night is going out again in the near future and I love this group. You can put Compose on the "don't bother" list.
Good to know, have heard many mixed reviews of Compose – thanks for this post. I was planning to visit Compose for the dessert tasting menu. Am surely having second thoughts now!
Beyond disappointing experience. My recco is don’t go
in the many years i’ve been reading your reviews i’ve never seen one w/two thumbs down. you always seem to give benefit of the doubt. not this time…it sounds like it was THAT bad! Anyone who is charging more than Per Se damn well be better than Thomas Keller.
the oyster thing looks good – did it taste good?
this post read a bit like a comedy…..if the chef cares about his customers he’ll be looking out for what they’re saying…..at least i hope so for his sake, or is there a market for expensive nutritional air…..
Immediately I notice the enormity and clunkiness of the plates. “So you focus on my food, with full seriousness, it will be plated to block all outside distractions. The dishes will block the view of other members of your party, and kill your cell reception.”Have you tasted Windex?
i haven’t tasted windex but i have certainly smelled it and have a prettygood idea from that what it would taste like.
I can’t decide what sounds worse – the food or the writer’s command of the English language. I’m not sure you can even read the keyboard.
then don’t read the blog