The last time I stopped by Adorn Bar & Restaurantin the Four Seasons Hotel, 120 E. Delaware St. (which was also the first time I went there)I encountered one of the most innovative brunch menus ever, with items such as mini-croissant cereal with house horchata. Even the breakfast burger, which my friend had, came with a surprise: an egg in a pocket of the bun that Chef Johnathon Sawyer had made.
This time, the visit was for dinner. Could this service reach the same lofty standards as my last meal there?
Well, the answer is "yes"for the most part.
Sawyer showed that his mind is as fecund as ever, and was gracious enough to present my dining companion and myself with a couple dishes he's working onbeef carpaccio with parmesan and olive oil, with a rub that incorporates everything from peppers to coffee; and a lamb pastrami with radishes, grainy mustard and tiny bagels. Both dishes were absolutely delightful, and I hope they become mainstays on the menu.
But the items that are already offered are pretty compelling.
We started with a dish I've only encountered at one other spot: bread and edible candle service. The more our beef-suet candle melted, the more we (especially my friend) enjoyed this beguiling combination as we spread the candle on our bread (Publican Quality Bread sourdough and house pita) and mixed it with the salt on the side of the plate. What's even more remarkable is that my friend and I agreed that this could've been a meal on its ownand the service is only $9.
However, our meal (and this article) wouldn't be complete if we didn't explore a few more dishes.
The appetizers we tried were largely vegetarian. Our favorite was the nitro tempura mushroomdelicious batter-fried pieces of hen o' the woods along with yuzu gribiche (egg sauce). I also really gravitated toward the broccoli-and-potato gnocchi and also liked the carrot-cooked carrot (carrot cooked in carrot juice), although my friend balked at the price of the latter ($13 for a small bowl).
The entrees were delicious, as well. My friend opted for the lobster and spaghetti "Joe Beef" styleSawyer's tribute to a Canadian restaurant. The items were cooked well, especially the crustacean; however, again, my friend had issues with the price ($48) for a dish she felt didn't quite provide the bang for the buck. (FYI: Being a new mother, my friend has become a lot more price-conscious. I disagreed with her to a point, but I certainly understood her stance.) I went a more basic route, with the massive burgerand it was definitely one of the better ones I've had (a tough thing to accomplish in a city known for its meat), with beef that practically melted in my mouth (although, obviously, not quite like the candle).
By the way, for those more inclined toward seafood, Adorn offers dishes such as trout roe smorrebrod, "Oysters on the 1/2," yellowtail crudo, river trout and sable.
Pastry Chef Juan Gutierrez somehow manages to match Sawyer in terms of creativity and result, as he provides a global gustatory trip with only five dishes; the offerings currently represent Colombia, India, Mexico, Italy and the United States. My friend and I agreed that our favorite (but just barely) was the Italian item, with Itakuja mousse, fromage blanc ice cream and tomato (!) sorbetthe mix was just intoxicating. However, you really can't go wrong with the other two we tried, either. The Mexican dessert consisted of sweet-corn ice cream, tres leches cake and pickled blueberries; while Taste of India (the sweetest) included gulab jamun (although the menu spelled it "gulam jamun"), burnt-milk ice cream and saffron. They were all masterpieces, as far as we were both concerned.
However, with all the wonderful food (and drink) Adorn offers, there's a bit of an image problem. One of the staffers mentioned how Adorn has trouble attracting younger guestsand that's understandable: The Four Seasons has a traditional and even intimidating reputation that may put off millennials and zoomers/the Gen Z demographic. But I urge people of all ages to check out Adorn; it's an elegant spot that's more accessible than you might think.
Adorn's website is www.adornrestaurant.com .
COVID protocols: Patrons have to wear masks throughout the Four Seasons Hotel and any time they're away from their tables; staffers are always masked. Hand-sanitizer dispensers are throughout the hotel.
Note: This visit was arranged.