Before its closure that saddened many diners, the only time I had visited Picholine in Upper West Side was with my wife Jun long before we were together for an afternoon dessert tasting menu. For all the restaurant trips I was making at that time, Picholine somehow evaded me and I never ended up having a full meal there. When I learned that Chefs Club was hosting chef Terrance Brennan, who once headed the restaurant’s kitchen, under the name Cote Medi, I figured this might finally be the time to explore what Picholine was all about. A friend visiting from out of town joined us so we were able to have a rather sumptuous meal by virtue of ordering a dozen dishes altogether. It was overall a satisfying meal, with some very good dishes that Jun and I enjoyed quite a lot.
The menu at Cote Medi pop-up consists of several mezze options for sharing, followed by many small- to medium-sized dishes (you can order three dishes for $58 per person, with each additional dish at $15 so it was a relative bargain after considering the prices of similar Mediterranean restaurants), as well as some specialty seafood options. Our server brought samples of prawns and crudos to be used for specialty seafood sections but they charged extra for those, so we opted with sharing one mezze followed by a total of nine dishes from the main menu. The mezze we ordered, an assortment of Mediterranean spreads consisting of hummus, baba ganoush and artichoke-goat cheese tapenade accompanied by Turkish pide bread (think pita), was solid. Among the dishes that came out earlier, Jun and I both loved the cauliflower risotto with egg yolk “bottarga” and truffle gremolata that gave a really nice earthy flavor without being overly creamy. Heirloom tomatoes with burrata, stone fruit and cucumber were also appropriately seasonal.
Reflecting the Mediterranean root of chef Brennan’s craft, the strength of Cote Medi lies in the seafood dishes, from the gigantic grilled octopus with fingerling potato confit and smoked paprika aioli whose texture was just about right, to the diver sea scallops that worked together well with corn and black truffle. The wild striped bass with “squid paella negra” rice underneath was another delicious dish, and the addition of caviar certainly helped enhance the flavor of butter poached halibut. Between the two meat dishes we shared, I preferred the duck magret to the grilled lamb chops. The texture of the duck breast was quite excellent (Jun and I both thought it was one of the better duck meats we had had in a while), and the addition of Black Mission fig certainly helped. While the meat itself for the lamb chops wasn’t bad, the seasoning was a little too aggressive for my taste. For dessert, the pavlova with lemon verbena and summer berries seems to be the perfect summer dessert that outshined the lebnah kataifi that felt a little flat despite the addition of honey comb sprinkled in between.
Getting a reservation at Cote Medi pop-up wasn’t too difficult and the dining room had some empty tables throughout our meal so you wouldn’t have much trouble booking your seats. There is full bar with some standard cocktail menus and generally expensive wine lists mostly from different parts of Europe like France and Italy. Compared to the prior pop-ups at Chefs Club where you may encounter some fun decorations, the Cote Medi’s space looks rather plain. Overall, the dinner at Cote Medi pop-up had some delicious dishes that are worth checking out. Given that I had not had a full tasting menu at Picholine before, I have no basis for comparing the experiences but the $58 per person for three dishes proposition is an attractive one if you are looking to bring several people so you have an opportunity to share a bunch of dishes.
KenScale: 8.0/10 (Jun’s Score: 8.25/10)
- Creativity: 8.0/10
- Execution: 8.0/10
- Ingredients: 8.0/10
- Flavor: 8.0/10
- Texture: 8.5/10
- Value: 8.5/10
Address: 275 Mulberry Street, New York, NY 10012
Telephone: (212) 941-1100