Tuesday, May 17, 2016


Chef Einat Admony has a nice little empire going on here, although Bar Bolonat is the first and only I've tried thus far.  I've heard great things about Balaboosta, Taim, and most recently Combina, but Bolonat seemed most suited to my tastes.  And suited it is, were it not for slightly precious price points, this would be a perfect neighborhood nook.  Instead, the prices vault it into a slightly more "special occasion" category, but special the restaurant is.  Admony is from Tel Aviv, and she brings those bold lusty spices to fruition at Bolonat.  The room is simple and attractive, shades of soothing blue and ivory rounding out exposed grey stone walls and linear furniture.

Our server was more than amenable, guiding us through the menu, which is pretty straight-forward, although his suggestions weren't redundant.  The menu has three sections: small, medium, and large, of which was recommended one person of the first two, and then a shared entree for the two of us.  He steered us toward the Japanese eggplant over the attractive  beets with white grapefruit that a table aside had ordered... and subsequently demolished.  But the eggplant is a menu stalwart, and memorably great.  Two fat, roasted halves lie in in a slurry of spicy tahini and crowned in a shower of crunchy
shallots. I wish I would've been as thrilled about the Everyday Cauliflower, while which I didn't mind trying it once, I certainly wouldn't want it everyday.  The florets are deep fried, which isn't indicated on the menu, and take on a particular sturdiness which, when combined with the bamba (a crunchy peanutty puff) and peanut tahini, verges on overload.  A better combination would've been the vegetable, roasted, with said accoutrements, or if you're going to keep it "tempura-ed", lighten up its counterparts. 
Chickpea gnocchi displayed a fetching nuttiness, both from the legumes themselves and a lashing of brown butter that enriched its punchy za'tar spiced sauce, studded with toothsome fresh spring peas and a snowy crumble of milky goat feta.

Bigger plates didn't palliate flavors as their size increased.  Branzino had its skin-side-up nicely crisped atop a bed of onion stewed kale and more of those vibrant peas, a nice squiggle of zippy green harissa keeping the energy up.  A wild mushroom
 pasta was decidedly less Israeli but inarguably delicious, with wide, floppy pappardelle noodles cradling an abundance of woodsy mushrooms sauteed with nigella and onion.

Although only four desserts are in rotation,  it was hard to choose  between a milky chocolate pudding or a creme brulee made from the super-trending halva, complete with whatever Persian cotton candy might turn out to be.  We opted for a gorgeously seasonal compote of rhubarb, a delicately spindly  raft of crisp kataif cradling a luscious, milky scoop of Greek yogurt ice cream.  Nothing to complain about there, but I left curious still about that Persian cotton candy.  Lucky for me, it's on the menu at Balaboosta as well, there paired with a Middle Eastern cheesecake.  As solid as Admony's cuisine is at Bolonat, I'm even more interested in trying her original.... so it looks like I can experience that confection and explore her talents further without even a revisit: Win-win.

    tel. 1. 212.390.1545

BEAUTIQUE, revisited

A mirrored stairway descends into the windowless dining room of Beautique, the first indication of the clubbiness of this subterranean midtown boite.  But while  "beauty" is more prominent than "boutique", with its handsomely presented food and see-and-be-seen diners, renowned culinary director Alain Allegretti has not compromised his talent for the sake of the
Fluke crudo
 party.  In a sort of Choose-Your-Own-Adventure phenomenon, dining and disco successfully coexist: it's up to you to curate your own experience.

Diners evolve from business-casual to New York-fabulous as the evening progresses, the low lighting ebbs sophisticated to swank. A mural of glittering lips provides a fantastic selfie-backdrop, if one can hold still long enough to snap one once the live music starts around 9pm.  But don't let this distract you from Allegretti's artistry in his French-inflected New American menu.  The caliber of
Beet Salad
Tuna Tartare
ingredients shine through in the freshness of fluke crudo and luscious tuna tartare, and cooked proteins are as masterfuly prepared.  Octopus and monkfish often turn rubbery, but both are flawlessly executed.
Octopus Appetizer
 The lustily spiced octopus appetizer, big enough for an entree, achieves toasty flavor even in the absence of visible char,with burst tomatoes and dense potatos. Monkfish is springier, a tajine of seasonal beans and bouncy Israeli couscous underneath.

Cod with eggplant
Monkfish with spring bean tajine

Strawberry Souffle with Key Lime Creme

The kitchen doesn't seem to fear the city's heightened salt admonitions: some dishes are notably saline.  But the scene encourages a free flow of libations, and even water glasses never sit long half-empty.  If you're a little bloated the morning after, it was well worth the dinner and a show.  And if dinner morphs into disco, still do not bypass dessert.  Strawberry souffle, delicately marshmallowy and drizzled in key lime creme, is well worth the twenty minute prep time.  If it's a concern, take that time to boogie away the calories in anticipation.