Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Greenmarket... errr- GREENSQUARE TAVERN

At first, I was a bit miffed that the Greenmarket was being so proprietary about their name. I mean, I think they were called greenmarkets before New York City's farmer's markets began being so called. So Greenmarket Tavern changed it's name to Greensquare, and went on its local, sustainable, organic way. I'd walk past it frequently, as it's only a few blocks from my house. Usually sparsely populated, I attributed this somewhat to its newness, and more so to the foreboding scaffolding that has been erected about it at a quite untimely moment. As if it is not difficult enough to get one's footing in the NYC restaurant scene without a huge, obfuscating mass of plywood and tension rods cloaking the facade. At any rate, I was feeling adventurous.... and I had tickets to an 8pm showing of The Hangover II, just around the corner. So into Greensquare we ducked.

The room is bright with white tile and simple furnishings, a bit sterile but for some enlarged photographs of farmy looking provenance. Lucky for us that the menu is pretty straightfoward, because the waitstaff is pretty much exclusively Hispanic, and of unintelligible accent. It is broken up into three parts, simple small, medium and large plates, plus a smattering of market sides. Quite a few of the dishes seemed a
little heavy for mid-June, so I fell back on my appetizer mainstay: the beet salad. Theirs is fine but unspectacular, a typical beet and goat cheese duo with some diagonally sliced hearts of palm thrown in with the frisee. Big, though, enough salad for two for just ten bucks. Three other salads, a soup and a stew share the small plates section. Medium plates don't seem any smaller than the large ones, just less expensive and simpler: mostly sandwiches and pasta.

From the large plates we tried the Painted Hills Ranch All Natural Sirloin Steak (many of the menu items boast their pedigree, which is a trend I thought we'd overcome). The steak comes with fries and, although June, brussels sprouts. Not that I would ever disparage brussels sprouts, but given the ramps,asparagus, fiddleheads and peas in the REAL Greenmarket, they seemed pretty out of place. And they were just all right. The substantially sized steak was a good, beefy cut, lean and flavorful, although cooked to what I would deem rare but requested medium-rare. Trying to remember it is verging on bikini season, salad subbed out fries, and this was probably a poor decision. A couple of even
mediocre fries would've been more rewarding then the bland greens that appeared. Pan seared sea scallops were no more exhilarating. They came with some tough snow peas but respectable forbidden rice, and a tepid squiggle of innocuous wasabi aioli that did no harm nor good. From those market sides, we chose the roasted seasonal vegetables... or at least I thought we did. Rereading the menu, it was roasted vegetables with seasonal herbs, although this was also a misnomer, unless there is a particular seasonality given to dried oregano. Most of the seasoning done here is via dried herbs, and not much else. The vegetables on hand turned out to be more brussels, along with broccoli, cauliflower and celery root, which spoke more of November than June. Showtime approaching and nothing on the dessert menu appearing much different than any generic diner's traditional refrigerated offerings, we skipped any more damage. Certainly you could do worse in the neighborhood, but you could easily do exponentially better. You could get commensurate quality for less money at a handful of places (Eataly, Le Singe Vert, RUB, to name a few), and for a few pennies more (this place is not cheap) you could be at Novita or Veritas! Gramercy Tavern!! ABC KITCHEN!!! , for Pete's sake! At any rate, our server offered an inscrutable farewell, and I was off to buoy my spirits with Bradley Cooper. No wonder the Greenmarket wanted their name back.

5 West 21st street

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