My wife and I came here with two other couples for a late night dinner tasting on New Year’s Eve. My overall impression was that the food was good, though there were definitely a few missteps along the way. I’d certainly eat here again from the regular menu. Perhaps the tasting menu was just a bit too ambitious, not to mention that it took a really long time to get through (the place was PACKED on NYE). I really liked the decor of this joint. It used to be a stationary store, from what I hear, that burned down and was later reopened as the restaurant. The space is wide open, has a European look and feel with a large rear wine bar, horizontally oriented subway tiles and exposed brick on the walls, and beamed, exposed wood ceilings.
Okay so on to the good shit, the shit that matters. The food. The joint is Italian, but there is definitely a more northern influence to the style, and even some American twists.
Here’s the menu we were served:
First I will show you the table breads. These assorted rolls came with a sweet honey butter that was likely mixed with ricotta.
The “assaggi” was essentially a fried rice ball made with faro grains instead of rice. It was really nicely executed. Juicy and earthy inside, crisp and light on the outside.
Next were the veggie offerings. I liked the beet dish. It was fresh and had a citrus pop to it.
The sunchoke soup was delicious, though I tasted more of a potato leek type of profile as opposed to the distinct, unique sunchoke that I love. A portion of the cup was crusted with pistachio nuts.
The rabbit/carrot/maple dish threw me for a loop. I couldn’t taste the rabbit or find a meat texture, although I definitely tasted something salty/savory. It was more of a foam or airy puree dish than something solid. The carrot was nice and the maple made it shine as the star of the plate. The stick looking thing coming out the left side is a dried crispy carrot shaving or slice.
The next plate contained both seafood selections; an oyster with a grapefruit foam, and some thinly sliced octopus atop a crisp, flatbread made from chic peas. I liked these both very much, though I may have preferred to taste JUST the oyster without any added citrus.
For the meat and cheese selections, we started with a burrata beggar’s purse filled with caramelized tomato jam and basil puree. This was pretty good, though I may have just rather had a blob of burrata with a little honey and olive oil. When people start taking that wonderful cheese and turning it into a vessel for holding other shit, they ruin the texture and deliciousness of the cheese.
The beef tartare with egg and caviar was more like a mini-burger with the bread involved. I would have liked it better if it was on a single, thin slice of toasted bread as opposed to being on a bun. Otherwise it was good.
The fois gras was excellent. The pomegranates probably were not needed. Perhaps maybe some caramelized onion jam or some pickled items would have been a better choice to pair with it.
The baby bow tie pasta with rock shrimp and lemon was good, but there was a bit of a bitter aftertaste due to the lemon. Otherwise it was a nice dish.
The gnudo (a pasta-less raviolo), however, was probably the best item of the night, and it came with a nice helping of shaved truffle to really give it that earthy depth. Awesome.
Next came a shot of chilled kale juice with blood orange to cleanse the palate.
The first of the main dishes was bay scallops with mushrooms and a sea urchin sauce. The urchin was a little overpowering, so I wasn’t too much of a fan. The scallops were cooked perfectly though. I just wish they used a sea scallop rather than bay scallops.
Another favorite of the night was the porchetta. While my wife had a few dry slices, mine was excellent, and the center piece was dark meat that had a real great crisp and flavor to it. Good fat content as well, and it was even served with what is one of the best pork rings I’ve ever had.
Desert was somewhat of a letdown, although it did have its moments. First was a chocolate ice cream soda with devil’s food and candied orange. I liked the soda/ice cream portion, but didn’t like the devil’s food and orange bit. When you live with The Cake Dealer, you get spoiled as far as baked items go.
The other dessert, which was intended to be creative and skillfully prepared, was pretty much a disaster as far as everyone at our table was concerned. The cake portion beneath would have been fine on its own, or with a more normal, natural topping. The blood orange item was a chemically induced film that had an awkward texture – like the skin that forms on top of jello. Ugh. It was sort of a shitty way to end the meal.
However, an even shittier way to end a meal is seeing this whopper at the end. Yikes! Too many bottles of wine (they don’t serve hard liquor).
In sum, I probably wouldn’t go back for a tasting menu, but I would certainly try some of the more traditionally prepared items. The stuff where they tried to be Richard Blaise just fell short.