Sunday, January 22, 2012

Les Plats Copieux - Ithaca, NY

Happy January everyone! January can be quite an exciting month for most people; singing happily for a new year, relaxing after a holiday week of family dinners, opening gifts and holiday shopping. For me, January is my favorite month because that's when winter starts hitting with snow - and not to mention my birthday. Yes, I'm one of those girls that make a big deal of their birthday. And actually, I don't just make a big deal on my birth DAY, but more like my birth WEEK(driving Siddharth crazy). But, this year, even with my egotistical ways, Siddharth was completely selfless and took me to a fancy French restaurant for my birthday - complete surprise! The restaurant is called "Les Plats Copieux" or hearty dishes, situated in snowy Ithaca. More specifically, the restaurant was in Siddharth's house where he transformed his entire kitchen into a real French cuisine. Everything felt French: the French baguette, the French wine and even the dinnerware. The only thing that wasn't French (and rightfully so) was the nonstop playlist of Blue in Green by Miles Davis in the background. 

I haven't been to many French restaurants, but we all know that there's some sophistication in preparation, presentation and flavors in French cuisine. And this particular meal easily satisfied every one of those characteristics of French food. Now, before going on, I will preface that I am partially biased to the owner of this restaurant, but as you see these pictures yourself, you'll want to try it too. And from the looks of it, it can easily be replicated in your own home too!

Starting with the first course, broiled oysters and salmon caviar. This dish took me by surprise in terms of taste and simplicity. The oysters were shucked by Siddharth himself and broiled on a bed of salt. With one shot, the oysters slid out of their shell, accompanied by the warm and salty liquor, minimal chewing. And to top the saltiness of the oyster was the burst of flavor from the salmon caviar.

Adding caviar is always a good idea!
For the second course, Chef Siddharth made a potato and leek soup. I have never been a fan of leeks, but the leeks were a hidden gem within this creamy soup. It brought out this bitter flavor that completely contrasted with the heavy cream and tidbits of potatoes. And to add on another dimension of flavor, Chef Siddharth grounded up horseradish root to sprinkle on top. The smell of the fresh horseradish was astounding by itself, but it was a fantastic extra to the soup.  It was so hearty that I could have made a meal out of it.

On to the third (and most hearty) course of the night, lamb shank with country vegetables. I can feel myself transporting to the countrysides of France. The lamb was tender, juicy and fell right off the bone. Obviously, lamb has its own distinctive flavor, but the cumin and coriander spices helped dull the gamey taste. Don't get me wrong, I love lamb meat, but if cooked too long, the gamey taste overpowers everything.  Chef Siddharth made his signature beef gravy with wine to compliment the meat. And the vegetables? Deliciously and simply sauteed in butter with the greens still attached. Very French, very rustic.

As a side, Chef Sid made a potato gratin, but  not your ordinary gratin with cream. This was a mixture of slices of celery root and potatoes in layers with large handfuls of gruyere cheese and homemade tomato sauce in the middle. This was the first time I ever ate celery root and I absolutely loved it. It has the same texture as a parsnip but have the bitterness of celery. This was fantastic with the gruyere cheese melting between the layers. It can be described as a lasagna but with potatoes and celery root - YUM.

And then, came the dessert... espresso creme brulee! Creme brulee is probably one of my favorite desserts, probably because of the candied layer on top of the custard. I've had many traditional creme brulees, but never an espresso flavored one. The espresso flavor was authentic and strong. You could even see the coffee grinds within the custard. I hope this is isn't insulting the chef, but it tasted just like a coffee pudding, it was that rich and creamy. The brulee was a simple brown sugar mixture that bruleed quite well, a thick layer of candy that was asking to be broken by my spoon!

Coffee Creme brulee
Overall, the meal was very satisfying and surprising in many ways. Who would have thought you could bring the French countryside to Upstate NY? Just ask Chef Siddharth who appeared to have his kitchen under control and whip up a great meal.

Check it out, it's still bubbling!


  1. Good job, Chef Siddharth. You definitely have a second career in the making! Very Impressed. Tricia, you painted a wonderful picture with your words.

    1. Thank you! It's always fun to make a feast at home. Most of the recipes here were inspired from an article on Saveur ( As usual though, I added my own little touches here and there!

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  3. Lucky girl who gets a homemade dinner for her birthday! I think that cooking for someone is so much more special than the fanciest restaurant on the planet!

  4. I've always wanted to make Creme Brulee at home! I even thought about buying that special torch to do it. It seems intimidating though...

    1. Actually, it was very easy! I am not a dessert maker at all in general, but I was able to master this well. Just check sites like Epicurious to get a good recipe!