Aside from the plates we ordered, I got a good glimpse of a handful of others given the tight proximity of tables, as well as a very friendly couple sitting next to me. They approved of everything they ordered as enthusiastically as I do, and I got a preview of what was to come. A hefty, oval slice of bread was heaped generously with mashed up bluefish salad, dotted with onions and radishes. Actually, this does introduce a sort of strange phenomenon for a place that prides itself on its bakery, whose homepage is a food porn centerfold of crusty loaves and moist teacakes: there was no bread provided throughout the course of the meal, and only available as "Breads and Spreads" from the Lighter Fare section of the menu for eight bucks, so you gotta have dip. too. Perhaps the "Leave it To Us" prix fixe at $65 a head provides a sampling of the boulangerie, but it would've been nice to have a few slices alongside our entrees, for sure.
Or even the appetizers we chose, two of which sported magnificent saucy components that would have appreciated a crust or two for swabbing purposes. A smart grilled eggplant showed none of its oil-philic properties, leaving it light and tender under a thick drizzle of salty miso paste, freckled with toasty sunflower seeds and pickly rings of okra that left their mucilaginous trail across the plate like sticky spider-web threads in a not unappealing way. Sizeable nebrodini mushrooms (a cousin of Trumpet Royales) were roughly chopped and grilled, crowned with two oblong green peppers that were deceptively NOT shishitos- spicy as all get-out, leaving me in further want of that non-existent bread basket. The rinded puck of tangy goat cheese helped douse its piquancy in a starch's absence, and although the cheese itself wasn't soft as described on the menu, it was much tastier than typical chevres to which I am accustomed, with more body and verve and less farmy funk.
The best dish of night was a super coarse fresh corn polenta served with soft shell shrimp for consuming cannibalistically in their entirety. But even with the enjoyable novelty of devouring the whole crustacean, head to tail, the polenta was the scene-stealer. It was shockingly corny, its tender, pebbly granules of corn grits melded together in a creaminess, green onion adding a pronounced allium bite and a verdant freshness. Fun to eat the shrimp whole-hog, even thought the taily end and the spiny, long-whiskered head were less enjoyable to masticate in practice than in theory. The meaty body in between was exquisite, though, and listed at just $15 as an appetizer, it could act as a reasonable entree for a cheapskate (no shame!) and was far more interesting than the tilefish main I did order, even though our server steered me toward the latter.
option at just $65, a prix fixe of the chef's choise which might be a great way to experience High Street, for if anything, I was certainly left with a curiosity to experience more of what there was to offer.
Onto desserts, I'll forgive them their paucity of peaches in the snickerdoodle concoction, but I cannot entirely forgive the un-snickerdoodliness of the affair. It was great, the buttermilk ice cream sublime, but really quite misnomer-ed. Softly crumbly biscuit studded with seeds didn't taste at all like snickerdoodles: in fact, any cinnamon sugar component was quite absent aside from a pleasantly gritty smear beneath the ice cream. The peaches were slightly dried, giving them an unexpected chew (I wonder if this wasn't to mask the un-juiciness of subprime peaches, but in any case, it totally worked). The overall dish was great- I'd order it again. But it should be called something else. Snickerdoodles impart a distinct nostalgia, and while this dessert had all the yumminess going for it, it had none of the snickerdoodliness. Other than that, I was so glad none of the quality implied from the initial hype as worn off. High Street's ratings come in as high as ever.
637 Hudson Street