December 26, 2005 | Ask Gael
I wouldn’t mind a dose of vintage hotel classic

        The city’s almost manic effervescence has invaded the once-staid Waldorf, unleashing a jangle of energy in the lounge of the newly reorganized Peacock Alley. But for classic calm, there is the rather dowdy dining room with its vintage peacocks strutting on the wall. And chef Cedric Tovar’s boldly flavored adventures in slow-poached egg with haunting black truffle, and chili-seared scallops on citrus-marinated mushrooms are flavored to stir the senses in both settings. Indeed, a smart citrusy tang is his signature, as in the verjus and green grapes that set off slow-roasted monkfish, and in the lemony grilled eggplant that is just a parenthesis on the ginger-crusted rack of exquisitely rare lamb. Even the appetizer portion of the pork-cheek garganelli with its lush and creamy Parmesan emulsion is dangerous. But don’t pass it by. Wild-pepper pork loin with parsnip purée and a melt of caramelized onion is also a triumph. Cap the feast with pastry chef Nancy Olson’s sorbets in fruit carpaccio or her marvelous apple-pecan crumble, a sophisticated riff on a homey favorite. The amiable service might benefit from some discipline, and the reservation system seems hopeless, designed to antagonize. I’m glad I persisted.

Waldorf-Astoria, 301 Park Ave. nr. 50th St. 212 872 7335