Thursday, March 8, 2012


Shorty has left the building.  Josh Eden closed his eponicknamous Shorty's .32 in SoHo to man the helm at August, a lovely, rustic haven that hasn't missed a beat, even with the chef swap, since its aperture over five years ago.   The dark wood, candle-lit glow of this homey restaurant, boasting a charming backyard garden, is the perfect complement to Eden's his simply robust, soulful cooking.

You'd be hard pressed to find a more humble, generous and nicer guy than Eden, and those attributes come through on the plate as well.  A Jerusalem artichoke soup was so lush and nourishing it was like a warm hug from a long-missed friend.  And but an iota of cream: almost pure 'choke.  Strewn atop were chip-crisp fried coins of the tuber, adding texture and amplifying its earthy flavor.  Hamachi tartare is bright and fresh, unctuous cubes of the freshest fish contrasted with crisp, juicy chunks of Asian pear, atop a smear of whipped butter tasting boldly of pure lemon zest.  From the richer side arises Alsatian tarte flambe (below, background).  Sweetly pungent coils of confit onion nestle with meaty hunks of smokey bacon atop a chewy, thin flatbread:  a pizza sporting a beret and liederhosen.

For mains, I always get Josh's skate.  Wherever he goes that I've been, skate is on his menu (pending availability) and he never doesn't do it right.  This time is was propped upon a mess of kale stewed in a rich tomato sugo flanked with wedges of yellow fingerlings.  The skate was crisp-edged and golden, if dampened slightly by the brothy sauce (a thicker sauce would've avoided that).  And to buck the "who orders chicken when you go out?" incredulity, his signature organic roasted bird is a strict carryover from Shorty's: crisply bronzed skin contains steaming juicy, tender meat atop a bed of mashed and a side of green beans.  And these beans, regardless of how addictively delectable they are in their emerald green splendor and garlicky goodness, do foment my one point of contention:  in a restaurant like this, where some of its allure derives from its homey appeal, side dishes are scarce.  It is these green beans that provide the sole vegetable accoutrement, and while the restaurant is called August, the month on the calendar most certainly is not: one could find more seasonal produce to offer up... or at least a winterier preparation than Chinese-style chilled, tasty as they are.  Okay, I know not EVERY restaurant has to have brussels sprouts, but they would've really felt right at home here.

The other a la carte side on hand was a mac-and-cheese (see above picture with tarte flambe).  Rife with rich, multi-cheesed flavor, the macaroni tended to be dry, the perfectly cooked elbows hiding out beneath a gratin crust, rather than the creamy, oozy casserole expected if you're going to expend those kinds of calories.  It's a big serving of it, though.. enough to make a meal with a veggie siiiiddddohhh yeah.  Just those beans.  Well, they would suffice- maybe better a salad, though.

Desserts are simple: a poached pear, chocolate cake, etal.  I went for my go-to apple crumble, which wasn't exactly a crumble so much as cubed, baked apples in a sandy, buttery toss of crumby brown sugar, topped with a scoop of dense, salted caramel gelato.  For the no-frills ingredient line-up, its flavor was, well... pretty frilly. The apples below weren't gooey like pie filling, but distinct chunks roasted to amplify their flavor, and the buttery brown sugar and salty-sweet gelato give the virtuous fruit a naughty little wink.

I think Eden and August make a perfect match.  And it's still winter, now.  I look forward to seeing August's menu evolve and the garden to lose its glass ceiling encasement in the coming months.... summer in the garden of Eden.

359 Bleecker Street
(between Charles & West 10th)
General Information (212) 929-4774
Reservations (212) 929-8727

No comments:

Post a Comment