For all the divided opinions about the venue (catering to the luxury taste with corporate money of a titan in the car industry), I still can’t deny that the concept of Intersect by Lexus is quite an attractive proposition. On our last visit, my wife Jun and I had a pleasant meal designed by chef Gregory Marchand from the acclaimed Frenchie (see my review here https://kenscale.com/2018/12/16/intersect-by-lexus-gregory-marchand/), and I couldn’t wait to find out who would be the next in line. While Jun and I have not been to Chile yet (we are looking to plan something near the end of this year though), I was excited to find out later that chef Sergio Barroso from a restaurant called 040 in Santiago will take over the kitchen’s menu. I wasn’t sure on our recent visit that chef Barroso was around (executive chef Nickolas Martinez was helming the counter though). The meal was still quite an adventure, although Jun and I both some issues with flavor in certain dishes.
Once we sat down at the kitchen counter, we were initially looking for utensils but couldn’t find one. One of the staff members from the kitchen came to us and said we wouldn’t need them as almost all of the dishes are bite-sized, to be eaten with our hands. That sounded rather ambitious for a 12-course tasting menu (at slightly over $100 per person). Once I saw the first dish of shank dumpling and quail egg on top of it on a little bowl with a side of smoked broth to be poured on the bowl, I realized that the kitchen was not playing around. The level of ingenuity in terms of plating, ingredients and technique shown by the menu from 040 was quite remarkable. I certainly didn’t expect to see almond ice cream to be one of the savory courses but it somehow worked wonderfully with a salmon wrap and wasabi puree. While Jun thought the combination of oyster, pepper and cotton candy had too much going on, I actually quite enjoyed the contrast in flavor and texture among these seemingly incompatible ingredients. Jun’s favorite savory dish of the night was sardine on top of tomato brioche, which initially surprised me given how sensitive she is to such types of fish but after taking a few bites I agreed with her it was a very delicious one.
Over time, however, we started to feel exhaustion from all the robust flavor from the succession of dishes. The tiny bite of palometa fish with rice puffs was potent in flavor (mostly in a good way), but we didn’t expect the succeeding dishes to match its intensity, from the mini paella onigiri with Béarnaise butter to caramelized tomato and lettuce veloute to oxtail sandwich with pickled spring vegetables. Other than the scallop with potato noisette and bacon foam which was one of my favorites of the night, I started to feel overwhelmed by all the complexity of flavor and Jun was starting to wait anxiously for the desserts to start coming in. I can’t say for certain how the culinary tradition in Chile guides the food’s flavor, but there were a couple of moments where Jun and I just wished we had something more neutral (or even bland!) to balance out the other dishes. For dessert, the first one with caramelized carrot with yogurt and curry (with brownies underneath) was a bit more interesting than the frozen yogurt and raspberry meringue that succeeded it.
I didn’t have much problem getting a reservation and the dining room was not nearly as full even during the peak of our meal. If you are, however, inclined to seat at the kitchen counter (which I highly recommend you do since you will have some level of interaction with the kitchen staffs), you might want to book a little bit ahead. The wine list at 040’s pop-up consisted mostly of wines from Chile and Argentina, with some Spanish varieties here and there. The décor and vibe of the dining room itself has hardly changed from last time we visited Intersect. If you have spare time after your meal, definitely check out a special exhibit going on upstairs, called Sway by Snarkitecture, a highly immersive exhibit that, according to the Intersect website, “reimagines the movement of water through rippling light”. Overall, Jun and I had a lot to like about 040 at Intersect, but it wasn’t a perfect meal with the way the flavor combination worked for us. Again, it is a highly subjective evaluation given that Jun rarely uses salt and other condiments for her food at home; in any event, though, I do recommend checking out the creative energy behind the kitchen.
KenScale: 8.0/10 (Jun’s Score: 8.0/10)
- Creativity: 9.0/10
- Execution: 8.5/10
- Ingredients: 8.0/10
- Flavor: 7.5/10
- Texture: 8.0/10
- Value: 8.0/10
Address: 412 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014
Telephone: (212) 230-5832