Friday, April 28, 2017


On a warmish spring evening, descending into the subterranean darkness of Omar's might seem a bit blasphemous.  A hostess brightened things immensely with a welcoming smile, but the only other light sources are dim, moody lamps and flickering votives, making this swanky supper club a better choice in the winter months, perhaps, than on one of the few nice-weather days New York offers from
 portfolio.  An earlier reservation on any given day will find a rather vacant dining room: the scene here picks up after nine pm.  You'll be ushered into a shadowy "Library", with all of a single shelf of books, and none of which looked like they have ever been touched.  A better bet might be to ponder the cocktail list, divided in Nouveau offerings like the tropical L'Exotique  or Classique, although those, too, have been tweaked into modernism, a Negroni of tequila spiked with strawberry and hibiscus, or an Old Fashioned sweetened with "rich" syrup rather than simple.

Once you've found your table, the menu doesn't challenge much, but it reads like a very appealing list of contemporary favorites, and some ingredients, like truffles and aioli, makes several cameos.  Mushrooms croquettes are an excellent way to start: encased in a crisp bronze crust just substantial enough to maintain their spherical form, four of them sit atop a zesty sweep of ramp aioli, lighter and fresher than a
 croquette might normally present. If you want really light and fresh, a crab and avocado salad fenced in by columnar hearts of palm deftly fills that bill, although it could have used used a spritz more salt.  At first there it seemed bereft of crabmeat, but it was just that the sweet morsels were masquerading as pale avocado, and in the end there was plenty of both.

A fat tentacle of octopus furled over a garlicky mash of potatoes, and a smudge of unfortunately bitter black olive aioli, although it was thankfully scarce and far enough to the side to avoid.  The cephalopod could have been more assertively seasoned, but it was tender itself if a bit diminutive for a $16 appetizer.

We didn't have to, but after that we went all veggie.  By far the most intriguing -sounding entrees are PETA-friendly , although in the thick of winter short ribs with pistachio gremolata or organic chicken fricasseed with mushrooms would have more draw.  And as we could've tricked ourselves into negating the imminent vernal transition given the lack of windows, but the veggies jumped higher to entice.  A deliciously roasty hen-of-the-woods mushroom
 bedded in charred broccoli got a kick of dijon in the beurre blanc below it, and it was hearty for purely vegetal option.  So too a sassy head of cauliflower, nestled into a nutty porridge riddled with black garlic to up the umami- a prominent flavor feature throughout the menu.  It florets were burnished buttery, and big, whole Marcona almonds clinging to them added crunch and heft.

Wrapping up, Roasted Pineapple with coconut pound cake seemed perfectly winter-into-spring transitional, as well as keeping that sexy, seductive vibe that fuels the menu.  Drizzled with a lip-smacking lime caramel, it flipped the coconutty richness of cake with fruit to keep things buoyant.   If I could've fit more in, though, all the desserts really had their own appeal- from a cheesecake with chocolate pretzels to a toasted marshmallow gelato.  

Omar's certainly has it's appeal.  It's not the cheffiest destination ever, but it's pretty much nailed the clubby swank vibe, and the food is really seductively satisfying.  It would be kind of a see-and-be-seen kinda joint if the place weren't so dark, but as it is it allows for a good bit of privacy.  It calls itself a "Private Dining Club", although it appears to accept reservations via its website and phone, so I'm not sure how private it is in actuality, although maybe they are discerning in who they accept.  At any rate, as it is and how it  is promoted, Omar's seems to be attracting exactly the kind of clientele is seems like it wants to.

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