Chef Eric Ziebold is looking to the past for inspiration for New Year’s Eve — the past eight years of CityZen restaurant, that is. Diners who reserve in his four-star dining room at the Mandarin Oriental on Dec. 31 will be feted with eight courses, one from each year of the restaurant’s life, beginning at 8 p.m. Helping him winnow down the possibilities are his customers, “several thousand” diners contacted from CityZen’s mailing list, he says.
Early response to the poll reveals strong support for Ziebold’s foie gras risotto from 2004; his seaweed salad with cuttlefish confit and sauteed monkfish liver from 2006; and chocolate chip cookie dough souffle from 2007.
Practical matters will determine what’s ultimately served. “Nothing with tomatoes is going to make the cut,” said the chef. While some of his regulars have cast votes for the toro “T-bone” (Class of ’06 or ’07), Ziebold says it would be difficult to procure enough to serve the 65 diners he hopes will fill his dining room. “I don’t think we’ve served 10 in the history of the restaurant,” he says of the prized piece of fish found in the collar of 500-pound (or heavier) tuna.
The food will have serious competition. The $225 dinner comes with the option of eight wines from eight decades for an additional $200. Sommelier Andy Myers is expected to pour, among other liquids, Madeira from the 1950s, Barolo from the 1960s and Burgundy from the ’70s, says Ziebold. (And yes, there will be a back-up plan in case some of the trophy wines have lost their luster.)
Why the hoopla for an eighth anniversary? “A-t-e and e-i-g-h-t should be celebrated in the food industry,” Ziebold figues.