Roe House

10/22/2007

My first experience with caviar was at age ten at my uncle’s thirtieth birthday party in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. The excesses of the eighties had even made their way down into the tropical, politically unstable third world, with the country’s top wives donning Claude Montana suits and Maud Frison pumps. Don’t ask me how they got anything from the icy depths of the Caspian Sea to the barely-paved 115-degree captital of this Central American republic, let alone prized Russian sturgeon.

Maybe it was the way my lesser-traveled relatives curiously spread it on their homemade tortillas, or the way the glistening black pearls stood out amongst the pork tamales and dulce de leche, but I knew right off-the-bat this was something special. Twenty years and endless culinary adventures later, I still find myself hypnotized by the most trite symbol of luxury attained, the heavenly Sevruga. And nowhere can I relive the experience of caviar in the 80’s more vividly than at Petrossian.

The impossibly chic New York restaurant was opened in 1984 by the caviar czars that founded the Petrossian house in the twenties (and introduced the delicacy to the West at none other than Cesár Ritz’ aforementioned Place Vendôme hotel.) Petrossian is housed in the fabulous Alwyn Court Building and boasts (I swear on my children) Lalique crystal wall sconces, bronze sculptures from the 1930’s, etched Erté mirrors, Limoges china, and a Lanvin chandelier. Sure you can get Petrossian by air in awesome thermo-freeze containers but nothing beats snuggling into one of their pink Finnish granite banquettes and ordering up some Tsar Imperial, Fresh Truffles, and a bottle of just-popped champagne. After a few glasses, if you listen really carefully, you can hear Leona Helmsley laughing at the poor people.

Petrossian

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