Sunday, October 9, 2011
I can't remember why none of us ordered the corn soup... it smelled ethereal, smoky and spiked with jalapeno, and was recommended by the charming couple who babysat me at the bar while I waited for my guests. But instead two of us ordered the beet salad, which was a decent starter I suppose: the beets were prime specimens for their own sake, but a cold, hard puck of pointless goat cheese rolled in chopped walnuts quite overwhelmed the little dears. They would've been just fine on their own, buried underneath a nest of arugula and sided with juicy, mild sections of grapefruit atop a thick smear of unctuous yogurt. Kick that crottin by the wayside (or wrap it in a napkin and filch it for a breakfast omelette tomorrow- it might perk up warmed) and enjoy the rest of the salad on its own. Memorably better, in an I-wish-I-would've-ordered-this-but-at-least-he-let-me-try-a-bite fashion, were the fried artichokes. Meaty at the heart and crisp at the edges, and earthy and vegetal as a good artichoke should be. They're cribbed on a luscious bed of garlicky, lemony cream, perfectly complementing the salty, oily thistle. Ahh, to have ordered the artichokes....
Alas, I was somewhat redressed (on paper) with the entrees, which proffered up that favorite skate of mine, and brussels sprouts on the list of sides, to boot. And the skate was ace, tender in its ropey way and crispy golden on the edges- not so different from those exquisite artichokes. The dumptruck of mashed potatoes underneath, however, was not only disturbing in proportion, but garnished with a handful of misfit olives and two juicy chunks of warmed tomatoes- delicious in their own right but poorly matched with the spuds. And the brussels sprouts "roasted with pancetta" not only weren't roasted, they had been steamed to just-crisp emerald green... ideal if you are a haricot-verts, perhaps (and even this is ebbing out of fashion: see Ned Ludd), but insufficient if you are a crucifer. Instead, the oily sprouts were just short of tender, hinting of a sulfuric bitterness and riddled with morsels of bacon which, while abundant, were insufficient to mask the inadequate cooking. They were what I might accidentally cook at home if I was short on time, whisking them off the stove prematurely, but deeming them edible in a sort of feed-focused adequacy, all the time wishing I had left 'em another minute and a half on the heat. Unsatisfactory at home, but unacceptable at any reputable restaurant. And not roasted. At all. You will not, however, be disappointed with the portion sizes: the kitchen dishes out generously. I made off with a good cup and a half of potato puree from my skate, which sauteed up nicely into little pancakes the next day. Too bad I didn't hang onto that chevre: I could've had two meals from one.
We also received a special-of-the-day gnocchi with porcinis... that we didn't order. Instead of graciously leaving the dish for the three of us to nibble as a mid-course, our waiter snatched it away and there was that awkward wait while our two correctly delivered dishes chilled and stagnated, and we were haunted by the heavenly perfume of the absconded porcini dish. In the interim, we nibbled at the exceptional fries that accompanied a good, solid no-frills burger. Big juicy patty just barely pinkish in the middle atop a toasted brioche bun, there wasn't much to complain about. In time, entree #3 arrived, which was a special of the day: hake, baked tasty, but the appetite that had spawned awaiting its arrival obfuscated my intent to photograph it and my memory of its accoutrements. We think it had roasted squash and broccoli romanesco, piled again atop a heap of pommes purees (don't get me wrong, they do them well enough, but doubled-up with both fishes and the sheer excess of quantity might raise a brow or two).
432 Union Avenue
Posted by webdebnyc at 9:23 PM