Thursday, July 4, 2013


Everybody already knows finding good theatre district dining is a bit of a travail, but this one didn't really merit the trip  nor the proximity.  It's a bit of a hike from most of the shows, but I had really chosen this restaurant more for its profile: by description, it is doing the right thing.  Very seasonal, farm-based menu, organic and local when it can be, employing full time foragers no less.   I had every reason to like it.  Except that I didn't.

That's not to say Print is bad, it just seemed a little lifeless.  Like a print, rather than the real thing.   We sidled past the hotel-busy bar to the dining room in back, which retained a hotel-ish feel, even though it was quite set back from the lobby area.    Big looming bouquets softened the room somewhat, but it still felt a little corporate and dim.  Our waiter provided menus, seeming friendly enough until I feel that he realized we weren't going to be a big ticket, and became dismissive ... at best.  We started with a Liberty Gardens salad to share, which was a nice enough salad, with very fresh greens and cubed zucchini amplified by crumbled of bleu cheese and a toss of pinenuts.

I was happy enough just with a split salad, however, in anticipation of my entree, which really sounded delightful.  A saute of Spanish bass and morels with slivered leeks on a bed of spinach sounded wonderful and was really attractive, but the morels tasted muddy and wan.  The fish was deftly cooked, although I prefer skinless filets, and tiny segments of juicy orange added freshness.    A special of grilled Alaskan salmon (which I have to question on the sustainability front) came on a raft of grilled asparagus and a dice of summer squash.  They're definitely using all the appropriate produce here, I just wish things were a little punchier.  The undeniable highlight of the evening was a moist but firm chunk of cornbread in the complimentary breadbasket.  Sweet like peak-season corn but far from cloying, robustly flavored of corn, not cake.  It's hard to find an excellent cornbread, and I think this one qualifies.  Not as good as my mom's, but good.

Our server would never have known this; he never checked in throughout the course of the meal, and upon clearing our plates, sort of huffily offered dessert menus which we declined.  It just really didn't feel like a place to sit and linger, and his dismissiveness wasn't helping the situation.

I have a feeling I experienced a bad night here.   Morels on the late end of their peak probably would soon give way to better fungi, a few more plates for diversity's sake would offer a better gauge, and maybe I was too affected by our inattentive server.  But every diner should be respected, especially in a hotel restaurant where hospitality is the whole point.  I wouldn't throw up my arms in disgust if I had to come back here; in fact, I'm assuming there is a much better time to be had.  But for now, Print's print was pretty smudged.

653 11th Ave 
tel.  212.757.2224

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