Molecular gastronomy arrived on an opulent American stage in December when Gilt (212.891.8100, www.giltnewyork.com) opened in the Villard Mansion at the New York Palace hotel—the same space that hosted Sirio Maccioni’s Le Cirque 2000. Executive chef Paul Liebrandt is just 29 years old, but his résumé includes stints with Pierre Gagnaire at his Michelin three-star restaurant in Paris and with David Bouley at the previous incarnation of Bouley Bakery in Manhattan.
Against a sumptuous backdrop built during the Gilded Age, Liebrandt presents dishes that include foams and gelées and employ sous vide cooking and other techniques from the avant-garde canon. As is typical of this cuisine, some offerings succeed and some, including a pine-roasted quail dish that tasted like an air freshener, fail. Among the menu’s winners is an appetizer of Scottish langoustine prepared three different ways (crispy, tartare, and royale), each of which testifies to the chef’s skills.