Thursday, April 15, 7:00 pm
Members $90, guests $115
At restaurants do you:
a) Decide that your companion’s dish looks better than yours
when your plates reach the table?
b) Eat an appetizer for a first course, an appetizer as a side dish,
and an appetizer for dinner?
c) Poke at everyone else’s dinner, hyperactive fork in hand,
incurring “do-that-again-and-I’ll-kill-you” looks
from your friends?
If you answered yes to any of the above, you’ll enjoy Gerry
Hayden’s sleek Chelsea eatery, Amuse, where the entire menu
encourages you to sample and share. Short for amuse-bouche,
Amuse has been delighting Manhattanites with its lively contemporary
American food since it opened its doors last year.
Hayden, a CIA graduate who previously worked at The River Café,
Aureole, and Tribeca Grill, has designed an eclectic selection of
small plates sized to promote “plenty of taste sensations
in one meal,” as Tanya Wenman Steel reported in Bon Appétit.
Agreed New York Times writer William Grimes: “Mr. Hayden
puts on quite a show.” In characteristic prose, Gael Greene
confessed in New York that she was “seduced by the
chef’s vibrant ways.” Writing in the same publication,
Adam Platt observed that “Amuse, rewired into a kind of kinetic,
hyperglamorous, Sex and the City style, is scenier and better
than ever.” He included it on his Best Places to Eat 2004
list, singling out Hayden’s “consistently inventive
What amused the critics? Sylvia Carter of Newsday found
the butter-poached lobster with coconut-curry broth “irresistible.”
Greene adored the chef’s “luscious” porcini-stuffed
arancini. And The Observer’s Moira Hodgson liked a
“lovely tart filled with fresh chanterelles and topped with
feta and baked tomato.”
Pastry chef Gilat Bennett, a native of Israel, worked as pastry
sous-chef at a renowned restaurant in Jerusalem before coming to
New York. She enrolled in the bread-baking program of The French
Culinary Institute, and after graduating took a job at Bouley Bakery
under Bill Yosses. At her next post, at Aureole, she met Hayden.
When he opened Amuse, he brought Bennett on board as pastry chef.
She’s now serving up “sheer perfection” (according
to Carter) in the form of a dulce de leche sundae. Hodgson swore
by the “dark, moist and treacly…wonderful” caramelized
pear toffee cake, and Grimes noted that all desserts “come
through with distinction.” That’s why, for him (and
for us), “Amuse, true to its name, really does amuse.”