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September 23rd, 2008 · 1 Comment


The first time I dined at Veritas I was not only impressed by then-chef Scott Bryan’s food, but also by the value of the obligatory $67 3-course prix fixe menu. By my second visit, the cost of the menu had crossed the $70 mark, but the French cuisine and atmosphere were still well worth it.

Gregory Pugin, Veritas’ newest chef inspired me to return to the restaurant last weekend. Pugin’s resume is notable, including significant time spent under the tutelage of Joel Rubuchon. I was excited to see what, if any, changes had befell Veritas under its newest culinary leader.

Veritas remains convivial, both in décor and service. Warm smiles and knowledgeable staff move proficiently through the cozy atmosphere accentuated by white tablecloths, soft lighting, and tables nestled together.

The restaurants renowned wine cellar (over 3000 bottles!) is also still very much intact. It is perhaps one of the reasons Veritas has remained on the NYC culinary map for a decade. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, the expert sommelier will guide you well.

New chefs are hired for their individual style and Chef Pugin has certainly brought his to Veritas. Pugin’s menu reads more classic French than Scott Bryan’s heartier fare, but there are a couple of eye-catchers and surprises.

The new menu also comes with a new price. The 3-course tasting menu is $90.

Every dish was plated beautifully and meticulously. Painstaking effort and skill were imparted on the smallest of details. The tiniest and most prim potatoes anna I’d ever seen accompanied the squab. Delicately stuffed zucchini blossoms adorned the dover sole. Three perfectly formed and colorful scoops of vegetable purees complemented the Jamon Iberico.

Diminutive beauties and pristine appearances aside, few of the dishes wowed.

An appetizer of glistening paper-thin slices of Langoustine Carpaccio, cut by a trail of ebony caviar, dazzled the eyes more than the taste buds.

The Squab Roti and Dover Sole Provencal entrees tasted stiff, as if their preparations had been taken too seriously, robbing them of any feeling or depth.

In an odd contrast, the Wagyu Filet ($9 supplement) was rubbed so vigorously with peppercorns that the innate and wondrous earthy taste of the special beef was often overpowered.

Proper praise must be paid to the exceptional Frog Leg Salad appetizer that succeeded in every aspect. Succulent lollipops of meat encircled a mountain of chanterelle and haricot vert embellished salad. A sprinkling of fresh almonds and truffle vinaigrette finished off a dish that tasted just as good as it looked.

With the exception of the Chocolate Caramel Torte that was rich and complex in taste, the desserts were consistent with the rest of meal: they were lovely and complicated constructions that failed to excite the palate.

While Pugin’s food has potential, at the high-ticket price of $90, his 3-course menu needs to astound and amaze. Veritas seems to have abandoned its strong roots and heaved itself into a category of NYC restaurants in which it might not be able to compete.

43 East 20th Street
New York, NY 10003

Neighborhood: Flatiron

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