Whalesbone is a hole in the wall. We drove right by without noticing it.
The place is so tiny, there is no way not to bump into other diners or the waiters. It is part of the charm. The kitchen is completly open and equally microscopic. The place was packed and we did not see the chefs stop for a second while we were there. The ambience is friendly.
I really appreciated the open kitchen which let us observe while the chefs created our meal.
I started with the salmon belly tartare (left) with wasabi crunch, pine nuts, tobiko and quails' egg. May had a half sashimi sampler. I had the tartare at Perspectives as well which I enjoyed; it is a nice and fresh dish. I make a pretty decent tartare myself, very comparable to Perspectives'. However, this is where Vardy brings it to the next level; he adds pine nuts which gives it a nice and unexpected crunch (well, if you haven't read the menu beforehand... of course) without distracting from the intended flavour. May's sashimi were so fresh, we wondered where Whalesbone gets their fish!
We then shared the Crisp Halibut Cheeks with lemon-sesame braised shiitake mushrooms, garlic chips and shisa salad. Very tasty.
Off the official menu was Vardy's Oyster House Carpetbagger. One might plunk down $50 on this dish but it will serve two, and it is heaven in one's mouth. It is a 9oz striploin steak topped with 2 ounces of seared foie-gras, stuffed with a fresh oyster, mushrooms and goat cheese. The combined, layered, bold flavors of truffle oil, steak, cheese and foie gras is just indescribable:
this dish is so fat it might kill you on the spot, but it is well worth the risk! The ingredients are bold but complement each other extremely well. This dish was exceptional.
We finished with desert which was ok. I have never really been impressed with Vardy's dessert (although I have no clue whether he is responsible for them at Whalesbone or at Beckta's).
A good dinner is one that will make you want to go back to the restaurant where it was served. Ours was of a second variety; a meal so good that you recall its greatness days after you had it and crave the moment when you will go back. Whalesbone delivered a moment of greatness.
Steve, wherever you go, we will definitely follow you to sample more of these astonishing creations. "Mr. Vardy makes me happy..." says May.
The Whalesbone Oyster House
430 Bank Street