When David Lee opened his power broker hangout in 2008, heirloom ingredients and the magic of sous vide cooking were novelties. Five years later, his menu is stuck in a rut and the placid room shows its age (wobbly tabletops, wine stains on the wallpaper). Even the service, once as polished as the silverware, has become perfunctory—when asked how poached white asparagus compares to a Mexi-fied lobster salad, a waiter declares that they’re both good and walks away. He’s not wrong: the kitchen is as proficient as ever. That asparagus dish balances tender spears with wispy discs of summer truffle, and the lobster contrasts the sweetness of claw meat with a tart tomatillo salsa and golden masa fritters. Lee’s pasta dishes remain first-rate, especially an eggy pappardelle tossed with an aromatic ragout of rabbit, porcini and house-made pancetta. Nothing inspired, but a dependable place to sign a deal over a Stilton-smothered brisket burger or liquor up before another opera marathon next door.
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