- Key Details: A secret dish combining three of the most decadent things you’ll ever find on a menu: caviar, cognac, and soufflés.
- Competitors: Caviar sushi at Bar Masa in New York ($240) and Norma’s caviar-topped frittata ($1,000).
- Price: $2,500 for a soufflé that can be shared by up to four diners.
- Why It’s Worth It: It’s not! But it is the most jaw-dropping culinary spectacle in New York at the moment.
It would be enough if Richard Farnabe, chef at Petrossian, served you two and a half ounces of Royal Ossetra caviar, to be enjoyed with 14-karat gold-plated spoons. Or if he whipped up a lighter-than-air soufflé to go with it. Or if he served it all with a shot of 200-year-old Hennessy Richard as some kind of over-indulgent coup de grâce. But depending on whom you ask, Farnabe has either gone off the rails or struck culinary gold: He has combined caviar, soufflé, and cognac into one dish, which he calls the Secret Soufflé.
The new off-the-menu dish at the iconic New York caviar spot, Petrossian, arrives under a cloche, concealed with fragrant wisps of Applewood smoke and speckled with bits of gold leaf. Then, in a second dramatic act, the dish is doused in 200-year-old Hennessy and flambéed until a pool of cognac forms at the bottom and the soufflé is lightly charred, like a marshmallow in a campfire. That’s when Farnabe divides the dish into wedges, revealing a generous well of Ossetra surrounded by cloudy egg whites.
The visual drama sets a high bar—as does the $2,500 price tag. (A full third of it goes toward the Hennessy.) But a recent tasting reveals that the soufflé is still a work in progress. First, the cognac flavor can overwhelm the caviar. And in an effort to preserve the texture of the roe, Farnabe bakes the soufflé for just two and a half minutes—enough to muddle the caviar and not enough to yield an appropriately airy soufflé texture throughout. Setting the whole thing aflame only exacerbates texture issues, leaving the soufflé exterior firmer than the rest of it. All together, the soufflé isn’t better than the sum of its (very refined) parts.
True caviar and cognac enthusiasts should order each separately, but they should consider ordering both from the leather-backed stools at Petrossian’s Art Deco-inspired bar, where a near-endless array of caviar from California, Florida, or beyond comes served on the most beautiful silver in town. As for those who want to seriously woo a date with a dramatic table experience, the Secret Soufflé is sure to impress.