Spring 2014 at Fifty Seven: Chef David Nayfeld

Opened in late March, Fifty Seven took over the Heinz ’57 loading dock in the Arts District. Their concept revolves around a rotating roster of chefs that will take over the restaurant for a season to showcase their style and unique menu.
I had the pleasure of dining there last Sunday during Chef David Nayfeld‘s turn as Chef in Residence serving, what Fifty Seven described as, Progressive American cuisine. Once you hand over your car to the valet, the first thing you notice is the unique location and space. The copper and exposed brick throughout the restaurant is aesthetically pleasing and seems like it will transition well as the chefs and cuisine change with the seasons.

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My dining companion and I opted for the Prix Fixe menu in which you could choose a Starter, Main, and a Dessert for $48. The first thing you notice is that all of the dishes are beautiful. I felt like I had a work of art in front of me, not food. I will be honest with you, the starters were kind of lost on me. While they were delicious, the separation and presentation of the various vegetables, dressings, and accoutrement were a bit overwhelming.
Next, I enjoyed the Heritage Pork served with Spatzle, mustard, beet, and apple. This main course was wonderful. If I could eat spatzle every day of my life, I would. I had only ever had savory spatzle at Suppenkuche in San Francisco, but this offered an entirely different take. The apple, cinnamon, and brown sugar complimented the pork beautifully.
Lastly, we enjoyed the Chocolate and Meyer Lemon desserts. The Chocolate came with salted caramel, wild rice, and Laphroaig 10 year, a single malt Scotch whisky. The consistency was that of a flourless chocolate cake; every bite was smooth and delicious. The Meyer Lemon offered a completely different take on dessert. The lemon and ricotta cake was extremely tart and served with a distinct basil sauce. Alone, the basil was strong on the palate, but with the cake, it provided a balanced and crisp flavor combination.

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I felt honored to experience a menu curated by Chef David Nayfeld. He served as senior sous chef at Eleven Madison Park for 3 years. In his time there, the restaurant received three Michelin stars and six James Beard awards. Up to this point, I have only experienced the elevated New York dining scene by watching food related television shows or movies. Enjoying Chef Nayfeld’s dishes made me feel like I was dining at a dimly lit private table on Madison Avenue.

Chef Nayfeld concluded his time at Fifty Seven on June 4th. Chef Josh Drew will be stepping in as the next Chef in Residence at Fifty Seven starting tonight. This menu is said to focus on local seafood, meat, and produce with the summer season as the underlying tone for the dishes. It will be interesting to see how the decor and staff hold up in the midst of the seasonal shake-ups.

Don’t miss Chef Josh Drew while he is at Fifty Seven. Make your reservations, here.

*photos from Fifty Seven