Since its sleek glass door opened in 1997, Seeger's has changed little. Except, of course, for the dishes and their ingredients, which change every day. The remodeled bungalow's pristine white walls are as fresh as ever, ideal for reflecting the glow of the cherry staircase and paneled back wall. Bronze draperies are as rich in color as the gently floral damask tablecloth and its equally thick undercloth are rich in texture. Small bunches of riotous flowers in simple vases and a single votive in a tiny, opaque white cup carved in classic palm-frond style grace the tables. There is no room for clutter. The show is on the plates and on one's palate.
Seeger's opening concept was three prix-fixe dinners, three, four and six courses, priced $58, $75 and $95, respectively, with surcharges for caviar and cheese, and an additional per-person charge for bottled water poured into very small tumblers. People howled about the small portions and large prices to the exclusion of the intense and varied flavors of the food. Sacrilegious, really.
Adjustments were made. The three-course option was dropped in favor of a five-course, $62 dinner and an $80 chef's tasting menu comprising eight dishes, and portions became more generous.
The result? Too much food! So, a three-course option has been re-introduced at $48. The catch is that it is a set three courses unless one requests substitutions. Your server will not volunteer this information, but it is possible to choose from the five-course side. One evening recently, the set menu featured Georgia white shrimp with citrus confit and vanilla sauce, prime beef Hungarian style with braised greens and sweet pepper reduction, and baked pear with spiced red wine and marzipan sorbet.
But this is the dilemma: The searing, soaring, shockingly different flavors that have made Guenter Seeger's reputation are best experienced as small bites. And not least because one can sample more of them that way. It seems to me that the large portions of the three-course dinner and the slightly less large portions of the five-course dinner are more filling than the eight tasting portions.
And unquestionably, the startling flavors are the center of attention. Your server will reverently impart vast quantities of information about each dish when it is ordered, and again when it is set in front of you, each a remarkable bite presented in an equally remarkable way. Teeny, tiny little things in gigantic bowls or plain, classic oval porcelain platters, blue stoneware tempura bowls, mammoth square bowls, or on glass plates as large as serving platters.
Every night, the choices change. The $80 tasting menu might comprise scallop sashimi with mint oil, lime powder and pink pepper; hazelnut flan with Jerusalem artichoke soup; Irish salmon chop with bok
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