Wednesday, November 27, 2013


I first had ventured out all the way to Brooklyn (!) to try Carlos Ignacios' food when he was at Isa.  Or rather, I tried to go - precisely the day the restaurant closed and he parted ways with them for good.  In fact, I was with the same chef that night as was my company at Estela, and we were both excited to finally get to taste Ignacios' food, especially given the accolades whirling about amongst the fooderati.

Estela is a vigorously seasonal restaurant, drink-oriented with a heavy emphasis on flavor- heavy flavor, in fact.  Respectively, what we experienced this night is that Ignacios' food is much better partnered with a selection of tipples rather than a traditional menu.  The assertive seasoning can sometimes kick you upside the head, compounded one dish after another.  But thoughtfully selected and paired with a beverage, individual dishes themselves are robust and exciting.  Using a literary analogy contributed by my dining companion, even if each chapter of a story is poetically and artfully composed, sometimes the overall book doesn't really work as a whole.  This is precisely how we felt at Estela, although there were some arguably wonderful chapters throughout the night.

Our server suggested a Riesling over the local, unfamiliar Edelzweiker I was curious about, but after sampling both, I went with my initial choice.  His atypical riesling was a powerhouse to be sure, boldly flavorful and gripped with acidity, but especially given the chef's intensity, the milder, more subtle wine played better with the food than would have such a profound glass.   I did, however, sense a smidge of disdain by our server for overriding his suggestion, but that might've been my imagination.  But when we started ordering, I distinctly mentioned two dishes I most certainly wasn't interested in trying: it seemed easier to eliminate the less appealing dishes in favor of the myriad ones that tantalized.  And sure enough, the kitchen brought out BOTH the dishes I had blacklisted.  I cannot be sure that this was intentional, but it struck me as odd, as well as confusing.  At any rate, it's never terrible to get an extra dish or two to get a better idea of what our chef is up to, especially when you're dining with someone with a more open palate than one's own.

Mussels escabeche

Beef tartare
So out came mussels escabeche, of which I was initially averse imagining raw mussels, but of course, shellfish need to be steamed to emancipate, so these plump specimens weren't scary at all, and actually quite wonderful .  An unexpected fellowship of carrots and a divers of leafy parsley upon a sturdy crostino smeared with goat-cheese, creating bright, pickly, crunchy, juicy, plush mouthfuls whose simplicity belied it's intense flavors.  Beef tartare was the other taboo I specified that arrived all the same, but after the success of the mussels, I even dared a bite.  I'm still not to the point where I'd order that myself, but the meat was so tender, cool, plush and flavorful, I'm not certain the dish could be done much better.  Scooped onto thick slices of

fresh, crusty bread, it made a winning (if filling)
 beginning to our repast.  Actually, had there been a soup or some other light appetizer, I
might've ended right there and called it a meal (if I were a normal person).

Kohlrabi, persimmons, cheese, hazelnuts
But normal is not par for my course of dining out, and besides, the best was yet to come.  A refreshing salad of crisp, sliced kohlrabi and Fuyu persimmon, juicy and toothsome to bite, came shrouded in ruffles of fossa cheese and bedded in crunchy toasted hazelnuts.  Which illustrate a recurring theme with Ignacio:  cheese and nuts.  Cheese and nuts, nuts and cheese in practically every dish, which is hard to argue with in individual compositions, but the monotony wears thin- or actually, thick- heavy and ponderous- after awhile.  This was a lighter execution, for sure, with the raw produce, but an omen of things to come.  For example, a
Endive, anchovy, cheese, walnuts
Brussels, pepitas, blue cheese
 salad of snowy endive featured walnuts for the nuts and ubriaco rosso for cheese.  A salty slurry beneath imbued with anchovy contributed an oceany umami, amping up the intensity of an otherwise lighthearted salad.  A smaller plate of tender roasted brussels sprouts got a pungent creamy blue,  pepitas (technically seeds, yes, but with a definite nutty flavor profile) here, along with a dusting a crisply fried onion bits.  I actually adored this dish, but in conjunction with the other plates it lost some of its novelty. One can only take so much cheese and nuts.   (Maybe you're not supposed to eat so much food?  But it's a restaurant.  This would seem contradictory).

Sheep's milk dumpling, mushroom

Mains escaped nuts for the most part, but cheese was certainly integral to rich sheep's milk dumplings, swathed with raw mushroom sliced so thinly they melt on your tongue like communion wafers.  These plump pillows oozed with resounding cheesiness, so the earthy mushrooms were a welcome counter to their
Spiced lamb ribs, cilantro, honey
Cod, chanterelles, turnip
 richness.  Lamb ribs were off-puttingly fatty for my taste, too gingerly spiced, and with a sweetness that would've leant itself better to a leaner cut.  Cod with chanterelles and turnips was the most approachable dish, exquisitely balanced and satisfying, while not  particularly revolutionary.  Given the amount of food we ordered, I inquired about perhaps taking what was left to go, to which I received a look of disdain from our server that would rival Blue Steel.  I mean, if I want day-old dumplings, who is he to deny me?  But apparently he could Yeah, they might not be premium the day after, but it is irresponsible to waste food.   So I forced a couple more bites of cod so at least that fish did not die in vain, but I felt vaguely belittled by his scorn, and not just vaguely gipped.

Two eggy desserts were offered, a flan and a chocolate panna cotta if I remember correctly.  We didn't get them: I had topped out at around the dumplings.  We happily ordered mint teas upon which to sip, enjoying the energy of the packed room (as well as needing some staid digestion time).  Estela is a hot-spot of the moment however, and soon enough the g.m. approached us with a gallantly suave offer:  he would love to buy us a drink at the bar, if we wouldn't mind relinquishing the table to waiting diners.  I thought that this situation could not have been handled better.   If only our server had inherited his grace.  We declined his offer in favor of a stroll in the crisp wintery air- better for burning off a little of the hearty fodder, anyways.   Luckily, it was the dishes the worked and the manager's dextrous handling of table turnover that I will remember- I'll lump our ignorant waiter with the excess of nuts and their accompanying cheese as forgiveable aberrations.

47 East Houston Street
New York, NY 10012 (212) 219-7693

Saturday, November 16, 2013


I like to let a place settle in before risking a meal there, and since I've never even been to either or any of Danny Bowien's other places ( here in the city, or the original in San Francisco), I wasn't planning on being the guinea pig here at all.  It really wasn't even on my radar yet but for mentions in the press... heck, as of writing this, it's still not even technically OPEN yet.  But that's all basically moot, 'cause Bowien and company have hit the ground running, and if my meal at Cantina is even marginally indicative of what this man is capable of, a mission to Mission Chinese Food just jumped to the top of my list.

There was concern as to whether he could pull off Mexican given his Asian credentials.  But he IS from San Francisco (Mexi-central), and seems to have embraced their dexterity with the cuisine effortlessly.  The crowd that night was almost as awe-inspiring as the food to come: fellow Californian Alice Waters was in the house, bi-coastal superstar Andy Ricker, global phenom Rene Redzepi, New York celebri-chefs Frankies Castronuovo and Falcinelli, and Jean-Georges vet and t.v. sugar-boy Johnny Iuzzini.  He had some top shelf tastebuds to impress.  I can only imagine they all were.  There might not be such a celebrity line-up when you finally score your table among the only thirty seats offered at any given moment, but then again there might be.  Bowien has accumulated quite a following after the success of MCF, and  has become something of a celebrity in his own right.

First thing to hit the table were thick-cut crunchy tortilla chips made in house, their hearty, corny aroma wafting from the paper-lined cup.  Tortillas are made on site; you can see them rolling off the conveyer belt through the window to the spacious kitchen.  The kitchen actually takes up about 50% of the real estate - but then, there's important work being done here.   The rest of the room glows with neon, colorful lacy flags adorn the ceiling, and a dazzling floor of imported Mexican tiles conclude the sensory assault below your feet.  An energetic soundtrack bolsters the mood even further.  The energy is palpable, and it translates throughout the space and the cuisine.  Like those chips: hot, thick and salty- perfect vessels for a bright, zesty salsa flaunting bits of char on juicy chunks of red and green tomato.  Just enough are provided to titillate your appetite, and although you'll want more, save room for everything yet to come.  You'll want to try as many things as possible.

Grilled Romaine
Menu's still not up online, but from memory it's broken up into small, appetizer plates, tacos, mains and sides.  I'm not one to judge a scallop and beef heart ceviche, but my dining companion deemed it a little underseasoned: mostly it went uneaten.  Grilled romaine had a haunting, spicy punch that took its time to hit.  It was a little watery, and although served with a lemon wedge certainly already had all the acid it needed without any additional spritz.  Things immediately looked up with a novel egg dish: a soft scramble studded with pert rings of strikingly red chile and a blanket of unctuous caviar, straddled by a generous swath of uni all
Eggs, eggs and gonads.  And skin.  On a tortilla. With chiles.
piled on top a tortilla.  Diaphanous shards of weightless chicharrones imparted their
salty crunch when crumbled into the steaming egg.  Or eggs, that is.  Or egg and eggs and gonads.  Whatever.  Visually stunning, and none the less so on the palate, I'm guessing the foodie press is going to love this one.

Lamb Taco

On a more traditional note, tacos are ordered individually, so we chose one lamb and one mushroom, which were two of the best things all night.  Lamb shoulder was meaty and rich, with hardly a trace of gamey lanolin, and roasted into crunchy chunks and tender morsels mixed together underneath a scattering of cilantro, chunked tomatoes and smooth Mexican crema.  Another featured earthy hongos, flavorful enough on their own that with the toothsome, fragrant tortilla it needed little adornment.  Pickled charred cauliflower is a perfect accompaniment to a whole roasted chicken (for two, or more), itself also brined, rendering its flesh brilliantly tender,
Whole roasted chicken
snowy white under the bluish toned lighting.  The magnificent bird is served on a bed of porridge-y rice, its chewy, creamy grains studded with meaty chunks of pork, sweet golden raisins and a smattering of fragrant mint leaves.  Paired
Pickled charred cauliflower
with the
 lettuce and/or cauliflower, its a shareable dish that could feasibly serve up to four.

So far, no sweets.  We took it upon ourselves to offer up a bevy of suggestions in keeping with a Mexican theme, but even if fried ice cream does end up on the menu, I'm not sure I can take credit (however much I'd love to).  I'd certainly be happy if it did.   (Churros were being tossed around as an option.)  Thing is with Bowien is that with his incredible talent and cross-continental success, he's as humble and accomodating as anyone I've ever met.  His only problem here might be getting people to leave.  With the tight quarters, turnover could be an issue: it's not the kinda place you want to dine-and-dash.  I could've stayed there all night,
 nursing one of their speciality cocktails (a mellow vodka based tipple with yuzu and mint was as good a stans-in for dessert as it was an apertif), grooving the tunes, watching Jenny McCarthy projectile-squirt mustard onto a hotdog in front of the bustling open kitchen, and basically enjoying the show.  Because dinner at Mission Cantina isn't just a great meal- it's a bit of a party.  So while Jenny won't last, Danny Bowien most certainly will.

172 Orchard Street
No Phone or Website Yet.
Opens November 20.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


Periyali made me miss Michael Psilakis.  This restaurant has twenty-seven years of staying power under its belt, plus an enthusiastic endorsement from Cindy Adams as the best Greek in the city on its website homepage.  After last night's dinner, I am kicking myself for putting even a gram of faith in the Page Six author.

It's a lovely little restaurant, don't get me wrong.  This had been its one alluring quality every time I passed by: the room is sparkly and white, the ceiling swathed in drapes of lilting silk panels, and glittering sculptures of shining silver sardines decorate the walls, along with big looming bouquets of mixed flowers, heavy with colorful blooms and arching branchlets.  So with the Post endorsement and its impressive record of endurance, I finally planned a visit.

Waiting upon my late-arrival dining companion, I was offered a drink.  I decided, yes, to have a glass of wine, and was offered the choice:  red or white.  (Really?)   I said (umm)  white?... "Sancerre, Chardonnay or Kouros?" Okay, so at least that was better than simply a decision between colors.   But three choices only, no prices given- and that was that.  I
 decided on the Kouros (it is a Greek restaurant after all) and was poured an almost laughably full glass.  It was fuller than some restaurants practice as he finished the bottle into my glass... then he opened another one and topped me off to almost the brim.  Well, luckily it was a voluptuous wine with a pronounced acidity which would pair well with food, since this abundant glass would last me the entirety of my repast.

The meal started off better than it progressed.  Complimentary bread basket included three varieties, crusty and fresh.  I started with pazaria skordalia, mostly for the luscious garlic puree, but the beets were quite fine themselves.   There was about twice as much skordalia provided as was probably necessary, and necessarily prudent.  Fortunately, the Calarmariaki Tiganita included
 the identical deluge of dip, so we were both going to be experiencing the same inevitable  post-prandial garlic aftermath upon our meal's conclusion.  I do love it, though, and this was a good example, intensely garlicky and with a bit of texture- a perfect foil for the tender sweet beets, although the pool of verdant oil beneath seemed excessive.  Abundance as a theme, that calamari was similarly plentiful, and I thought the skordalia an odd pairing, but it actually played nicely, especially with the snappy arugula alongside.

There wasn't much of a wait after our appetizer plates were cleared (both with about 50% of the superfluous skordalia left over) and our entrees appeared.  They appeared rather homogeneous, as well, both identically sided with a plain mound of steamed white rice, and (more garlic on) some steamed green beans- like t.v dinners on porcelain.  I couldn't help but notice, too, that as I ordered from a $38 prix-fixe menu, he got a lot more green beans than I did with his regular-menu shrimp- but that may have been simply coincidence.  At any rate, they weren't beans that I wanted a whole lot more of anyways, although they were, quite frankly, tastier than anything else on the plate.  Lavraki Plaki , filet of striped bass, was smothered in a generic tomato sauce with visible slices of garlic, but this time either my palate was desensitized to the allium or else it was more for decoration than flavor, because they sauce just tasted of a bland tomato puree, nothing better than what you could buy in a bottle at the grocery store.  Or a can.  Made me wish I'd have retained some of the skordalia: that stuff really makes anything taste good.
  And while I'm not always a fan of skin-on fishies, if it's well-crisped and integrated it is inarguably delicious.  This one, however, was flabby and fishy, rubberized by the wan sauce if it was ever even crisp to begin with.    The fish tasted either farmed or old, in either case unimpressive.  Shrimp were overcooked and leathery (can't say anything different about their sides since they weren't anything different); a home cook with some frozen Contessas could do better for one's self.   Nothing jumped out at me from the sides' offerings (asparagus, horta, okra, potatoes) as much as an appetizer of charcoal
 grilled mushrooms did, so I requested them as a side, instead.  Apparently, however, removing their accompanying arugula and lemon wedge was verboten, and thus impossible.  He would, however, bring the appetizer in full as a side (this was his concession), I'm guessing so as not to oblige the $8 reduction in price of the app vs. side dish (although that was not my intent).  At any rate, they may have been the best thing of the night, simply grilled with a kick of woodsy smoke, their earthy chew balancing the bite of the arugula brightened with a spritz of lemon.  Even those wouldn't have minded a little smudge of the skordalia, though, either.

My prix-fixe came with dessert, and thus plonked down our table two wedges of cake and a couple sandy, nutty cookies.  The cakes were fine: one moist with orange zest, the other rich with walnuts and a sticky-sweetness.  There are other sweets on offer, but we weren't given that option.  Out of curiosity, I asked about other dessert options, our waiter off-handedly rambled off a list of rice pudding, sorbets and gelatos- but never inquired whether we might like some.  The vanilla ice cream next door to us, however, looked goopy and chewy, so perhaps the allotted cake was as good as it was going to get.

Thing is with a meal like this, though, it does serve a purpose.  The tragedy lies in the waste of a lovely, charming and conveniently located restaurant serving such mediocre, generic food.  As I stated in my opening line, I need to get to Kefi and MP Taverna and remind myself what marvels Greek cuisine can provide.  But similarly, there's nothing like a bad meal to make your next one taste even better.

 35 West 20th Street, New York, NY 10011      Ph: 212 463 7890 

Thursday, October 10, 2013


What ever may or may not have been taking place during the incipient stages of Lafayette, Andrew Carmellini has tied up any of the loose ends and fashioned them into an intricate, beautiful weave like a hand-tatted doily.  Carmellini is one of those smart, super talented chefs that can cross genres, and pulls them off flawlessly.  Locanda Verde (Italian) is going strong coming up on five years, The Dutch (New American) is so busy it's next to impossible to get a table and Lafayette (French) is destined to become another gilded notch on his collar.  And it couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

Lafayette took over the old Chinatown Brasserie: it's a big restaurant, with additional outdoor seating that I was able to take advantage of given this revisit to July-like temperatures (thankfully, with slightly relenting humidity).  Under breezy cobalt blue umbrellas, we pulled up sturdy picnic chairs to a marble table.  Angled away from the busy traffic of Lafayette street, you could almost imagine yourself in a grand cafe in the south of France.  White-washed wood and glossy white subway tiles set off the blue accents, giving it a Provencale air tres authentique.  It would behoove you to begin your meal with a cocktail: their list is provocative- fresh and seasonally balanced.  I tried the Crochet Rouge,  a bourbon-based drink that sipped subtly of malt and brightly of citrus, expertly balanced and supremely drinkable.  Our genial sommelier helped us unearth an unfamiliar wine (from their rather pricey list).  We procured a reasonably priced ($45) bottle of WEinbach Sylvaner, and marveled at its robust perfume, and lusty body.  I dubbed it the Marilyn Monroe of white wines, voluptuous and tantalizing.  It paired well with our entire repast.

As the wine was voluminous in flavor, so are the dishes.  Many salads are big enough to split, and at these prices, that's not a terrible idea.  I think one could probably get away with sharing an appetizer and entree, each with a side and dessert plus wine, and come away feeling regally sated for under a $100.  Going the traditional route, however, will tax you noticeably more.  Extraordinarily crisp local butter lettuce is heaped on the plate, anchored down by crumbles of exceptional, pungent Roquefort and swaths of
 country ham in a light herbal vinaigrette.  Even better is the roasted beet root tumbled with soft,
 earthy tufts of mache, tempered ribbons of pickled red onion, crunchy caramelized cashews on a dense pillow of fragrant bergamot yogurt, gently citrus and unctuously rich.    There are several other appetizers I'd avidly return for, including an octopus with charred eggplant, although I'm sure if I do I'll be too late for the arugula with organic strawberries or the heirloom tomatoes with feta and pancetta.  There are French Market offerings we missed as well, such as sweet peppers and breakfast radishes, and a tempting Maine crab a la nage.  Heartier options like pate or tartare might endure a little longer.

A return visit might also include the highly recommended black fettucine, or cocquilles with beef cheek and brebis- both dishes that remained in the running right up until crunch time.  Lamb chops Marocaine made up for any carnivorous deficit, however, luckily ordered medium (because even then were on the rare-ish side), three chops teepeed over beady Israeli couscous and some confited shoulder, melted leeks and whole Lilliputian carrots.  Plates are fairly well-balanced, including vegetables and starches not necessarily noted on the menu.

 Thus, a side of brussels sprouts may not have been requisite, but they were wildly appreciated- fearlessly roasted with thick chunks of bacon and horseradished smudged with garlic.    Not to be missed, even if you don't think you need them.  East coast halibut was another last hurrah
 of summer, perched atop a sweet slurry of corn with a vermillion sauce poivree.   Wood-grilled trout, however,  trumped of the piscine dishes, its silky flesh permeated with a profound smokiness, reminding why this fish is so commonly used in appetizing.  The lingering char trickled down into a toothsome bean ragout, which mingled a variety of legumes with yellow and green haricots, all brightened with a vibrant  orange-inflected citronette.

For a finale, we went out in grand style: a Belles Poires tart for two, which was easily big enough for four or more.  Gossamer layers of buttery pastry cradled tender, spiced pears in a thick smear of
pistachio custard.  A small scoop of cooling yogurt sorbet kept its distance so as not to sog its ethereal crispness, but ready to anoint individual bites as desired.  Belles, without question.  Perhaps even more remarkable (and I guessed it!) was the sublime coffee (decaf!) served alongside: Stumptown at its absolute finest, thick and chocolately, gulpably smooth but sippably decadent.  This was certainly among the best coffee I've ever had... and how fitting.

Our waiter bid us adieu with a somewhat scripted adage, but his sincerity behind the words was unmistakable.  So it is with anything that chef Carmellini touches.  Perhaps there was a hiccup or two upon opening Lafayette, but he is a chef much too smart, much too talented, capable and respected to have left any of that to persist.  Perhaps our waiter's words were a bit foreign to his tongue, but given a little time, he'll have it rolling out as effortlessly and eloquently as Lafayette has shaped up to be.

380 Lafayette Street
New York, NY 10003
(212) 533 3000

Sunday, October 6, 2013


How do you say "favorite" in Spanish?  Because that's what this relatively new Chelsea tapas-focused Spaniard has become.  A mecca of robust flavors, it balances traditional and creative Basque under the deft hand of San Sebastian native Luis Bollo, an established and award-winning chef who is worth every accolade.  Salinas is on the east coast of Spain, but towards the west edge of Chelsea, and in no way too far or inconvenient to beeline to, regardless of where you're coming from.

The room has a sultry quality to it, not in temperature, but with a swankiness that feels mysterious.    White-washed exposed brick and glossy black limit the color palette, aside from voluptuous bouquets of ruffly, heavy-headed roses, in deep oranges and pinks, bunched in monochromatic masses that break up the darkness.  They are also used, ingeniously, to break up a communal table, thus sequestering each end to be used as a two-top, divided by the massive flowers, without moving any furniture around.  Deep blue velvet booths are tucked neatly along the periphery, and a large, open-air room in back can either hold an overflow of reservations, or be reserved for private affairs.  Given the appropriate circumstances, any romantic sentiments might easily escalate with the inspiration from flickery candles,  glowy lighting and the tumbles of blooms.

The food has a sexy quality to it as well, edging towards decadence without excess.  We began with the traditional  pa amb oli (Catalan for bread with oil),  but this crusty bread grilled smoky was anointed with fresh, garlicky crushed tomatoes as well as its drizzle of fruity
 olive oil.    The juices will run down your chin: care less about
 this than procuring your fair share.   Another classic plate is patatas
 bravas, Salinas' version using cubed morsels of waxy potato fried crisper than crisp, buttery smooth inside and thinly smeared with a zesty coat of spicy mayonnaise.

 But the standout dish of the night was inarguably the Coles e Colifor, featuring florets of cauliflower and halved brussels sprouts, grilled to a rich roastiness and nuzzled into a plush pillow of thick, lemon zest-infused yogurt.  Pimenton de la vera adds a touch of woodsy smoke and a kiss
of heat, and one order to share amongst four people was nothing short of inadequate.  The wonderful thing about tapas-style dining is that one's order can be augmented throughout, so an indispensable 'refill' of these arrived swiftly, despite the increasingly populated dining room and constant circulation of runners ferrying enticingly fragrant platters and emptied trays to and fro.  Alcachofas Fritas are fried to an inimitable crunch, paired with perhaps a few too few small, sweet candy cane beets and a scatter of toasty pignoli.  A smooth emulsion of rulo, only mildly goaty, is brightened with lemon and accompanies the rich artichokes for dipping.

Of course, there are meatier tapas on hand as well,  traditional jamons , sausages and artisanal quesos.     We tried the crispy quail decadently cloaked in applewood smoked bacon, four plump drumsticks lolling over a melange of apples roasted with spring onions and tiny caps of shiitake mushroom.

A handful of seasonal offerings are also listed on the menu, as are a few specials your server will describe.  One of these was an under-seasoned sauté of somewhat bland calamares, who took on a bit too much chew whether under- or

overcooked, paired with enormous creamy white beans and morsels of lobster mushroom.  The dish itself was fairly monochromatic: the flavors didn't stray much from its appearance.  On the opposite end of the flavor spectrum rang in a Fideos Canarios from a section of Spanish pastas, which can be ordered as tapas or main course-sized.  Fideos are cut into manageable, abbreviated strands which avoid the Italian twirling conundrum, and these silky, slippery noodles were richly seasoned, thick with umami, salt and depth: this is what Rice-a-Roni is supposed to taste like, but never could.  Tender bits of smoked rabbit coalesce with nubs of roasted green cauliflower, with a moist, oversize scallop standing guard aside flanked with tiny, briny crispy shrimp, creating a surf 'n turf 'n earth par excellence.

Finishing up, any additional food was purely superfluous.  But I had my dad in tow, and when there is bread pudding anywhere in an accessible vicinity, it is simply mandatory.  Salinas' was of the pumpkin variety, a bit chi-chi for the likes of such a traditionally humble sweet, but nonetheless delicious for it.  The pudding side of it featured soft, toasty cubes that held their shape bound with a creamy pumpkin custard and topped with gently spiced scoop of ice cream.  A crisp, buttery plank studded with pepitas spanned the plate and anchored itself in a smooth puree on the opposing end, but the best bites included tidbits from all the components.  I ordered a decaf to go along: this would have paired well with a bitter espresso, but my coffee order went missing- which I actually appreciated, in the end.  I couldn't much fit another morsel of anything on top of an at-capacity stomach, and it didn't make its way onto the bill, either, so I'm guessing she just didn't hear me.  And that was the only snafu of service at any juncture throughout a spectacular meal in a beautiful space with a deft crew, under the thumb of a chef who has garnered my irrevocable admiration.

136 9th Avenue •  Between 18th & 19th Streets 
• 212-776-1990