I recently had dinner at Tocqueville, Chef Marco Moreira’s French-American restaurant near Union Square. Tocqueville was recommended to me because of its high-quality vegetarian options; it’s been on the “Places” tab of this blog just about since the blog started up. Overall, I thought Tocqueville had some great-sounding vegetarian options on their menu, although I thought the execution was just not quite there, particularly compared to some other places that do great vegetarian food, like Picholine or even Dovetail. The amuse-bouche was a “beet cannoli” (pictured above), and might have been my favorite item of the night. The cannoli filling had a sweet, slightly lemony taste, and the crispy beet on the outside lent a contrasting texture.
I started with the cauliflower soup. This actually sounded quite good — I was excited for the sunchokes, and the black truffle vinaigrette. The picture you see above is the “before” shot; what you see below is after the soup was poured in:
The soup was pretty good. It had a creamy taste, and although I didn’t get much of the black truffle, I thought the other flavors came through pretty well. The problem was that there was just too much soup. After a couple of minutes, I’d eaten the sunchokes and the almonds, and I was still left with a sizable quantity of soup to get through. At the City Grit dinner, Chef Santos referred to this as “palate fatigue” — the sort of boredom that sets in from eating the same thing over and over. That’s how I felt about halfway through this soup. It started out great, but then it became a bit of a chore to get through.
My main course was the house made tofu, which was served with mushrooms and a porcini consomme. I was initially unimpressed; this tasted just like tofu (very good tofu, but just tofu) and mushrooms. As I reflected on it though, the dish grew on me. The porcini consomme sort of “infused” the tofu, so that there was a mushroom essence in the tofu itself. I usually prefer very firm tofu, so I was impressed how this relatively soft tofu held up to the broth and mushrooms. (It was not, however, as soft as the tofu at Jean-Georges last year.) So I give this generally good marks, although it was too similar to a tofu-soy sauce-and-mushroom dish you might get at an average Chinese restaurant to really stand out as something spectacular.
Dessert was a Grand Mariner souffle. I thought the souffle was very good, and I liked that it had varying textures: although the outside was fairly firm, the center was still almost liquid. (I can see how some people might find that unappealing, but it didn’t bother me too much.)
Overall, Tocqueville does a good job of incorporating vegetarian options onto their menu. There are several vegetarian first courses, and there seems to always be at least one vegetarian option among the second courses. In fact, three of the four courses on the Chef’s Tasting Menu were vegetarian the time I was there. That said, the execution isn’t quite what I was expecting. Overall, the restaurant was very good: nice vegetarian selections, decent quality, and a nice overall experience. Three stars.