Eatin’ in New York 5

June 1, 2015 at 9:37 PM 1 comment

Because of a wonderful set of circumstances, Jeff had the pleasure to visit New York three times this spring. During each visit, he took the opportunity to try some new restaurants and wow, are there some great ones in the city! So good, in fact he wondered why it couldn’t be four trips!

At the top of the list was Estella. Blink walking down Houston, east of Lafayette and you’ll miss this half-story up spot. That would be a shame. Of all the meals over all the days, the Celery Salad is the most memorable. We’ve all had celery in our salad, but how many of us have had a salad made primarily of celery? The stalks were sliced thin and tossed with raisins, pistachio nuts and a vibrant Bleu cheese together with a lemony-oil dressing. This was so good, Jeff has been searching the internet for a similar recipe since. (Sorry, no luck!) This was followed by a cod and potato dish that was equally tantalizing. Without question, next trip to New York, We’re back at Estella!

Bâtard just won the James Beard award for best restaurant in New York. Judged exclusively on the food, this would be easy to understand. (Although, they were competing with Estella, so Jeff’s vote would have gone differently!) The very fairly priced 2, 3 or 4 course options showed real skill and excellent results. The staff performance was another thing entirely. This may have been the most amateur wait staff we have experienced in New York, or anywhere else for that matter. It was never clear who exactly was our waiter, our order was eventually taken, after a VERY long wait, wine was not delivered, plates were not cleared and we were left to flag-down any waiter who stepped within eyesight of our table when something was needed. It is understandable that a Chef would want to concentrate on the meal. To do that, he or she must rely on competent staff in the dining room. Clearly, Chef Glocker needs to make adjustments to the front of the house so that it matches what he is achieving in the kitchen.

When a restaurant features small-plates, it is always a treat to dine with someone. Jeff was working with a colleague who has an adventurous palate, so a trip to nouveau Mexican cuisine, Cosme was a perfect choice. We started with the Chicharron (deep fried pig skin/pork rinds) light and fluffy served with avocados, radishes and a nice hot sauce. That was followed by a potato Tamale, rich and sinful with beans and Ricotta. The bone marrow, Uni Tostada was equally sinful and delicious, prompting a debate on who selected the best appetizer. For the quasi-main course we picked a NY strip sliced for taco use and the heavenly octopus. Only the NY strip (also the most expensive thing on the menu) did not match the high expectation established by the kitchen. Octopus in New York is always great, combined with the hazelnut mole, this was exceptional. While we left a third of the menu uneaten, we’re sure almost anything they serve here will be great.

We read about Narcissa on Cooper Square shortly after it opened. While not a vegetarian restaurant, they did like to place added emphasis on the vegetable portion of the dish. That was the case with one meal, no so with the second, so we can’t say this is a “vegetable-forward” restaurant, but we can say it is VERY good. We started with the nicely presented Beets and the tasty Risotto. For entrée’s we had the Lacquered Duck beautifully placed on a bed of creamed turnips and cherries for color. The Hampshire pork was served two-ways, a belly (great!) and tenderloin (great!) with onion grits and English peas that perhaps improved the flavor of the pork (could this be the vegetable’s doing what the article said?) For dessert, we shared a Rhubarb Hibiscus Pavlova because we never heard of this type dessert. A Pavlova is a merengue-based dessert and the experiment paid off. Like everything else here, it was excellent. This was a late night visit and because Jeff and his niece chatted away the evening, we were probably the last to leave. Regardless, service was flawless, even when we were sure the staff was ready to leave. The folks at Bâtard could learn a lot from service at Narcissa.

Marta is located on the first floor of the Martha Washington Hotel. Between the guests congregating in this inviting space and the area workers stopping in for dinner or drinks after a long day, the place was a hive of activity. Marta specializes in thin-crust, wood-fired pizza and that is exactly what Jeff and his guest enjoyed during their visit. Prior, they shared rabbit meatball appetizers and a Salumi Misti. (A mixed plate of salami, prosciutto, patte and head-cheese.) We were off to a great start, everything was perfect with each having a favorite (Jeff, the country patte, his guest, the head-cheese.) Jeff loved the lamb pizza with spring peas and his guest went for the meat-intensive, Macellaio pizza (a combination of Sopressata, Pork sausage and Guanciale, a cured Italian mean similar to jowl bacon.) Because slices were swapped, Jeff was able to judge them both and while he preferred the uniqueness of the lamb, the Macellaio definitely held its own. The olive-oil lemon cake could not have been a better finish. The energy, the food and the atmosphere and the people really define this place as a New York restaurant. Very, very enjoyable.

Located in a quiet section of the West Village, Buvette surely evolves the feel of the small French bistro it tries to emulate. Fairly priced, a buzz of people and very good food. Jeff hadn’t had a Croque Monsieur in ages and their version was excellent. Crunchy, cheesy and homey-good. Preceded by a spunky Carottes Rapees (slivered carrot salad) and followed by a decadent, rich Chocolate Mousse, Buvette really made an impression.

While Jeff did visit some old favorites for some quick after-theater food, the last new place was Txikito in Chelsea. Txikito is a small-plate restaurant dedicated to the food of the Basque region of Spain. Clearly, this is a favored spot. Jeff arrived at 5:30, so as to make an 8:00 curtain uptown and was followed shortly by a parade of patron, some stopping after a matinee before heading home, others meeting after work. After a look at the menu, it was going to be a difficult choice. What did he do? He ordered entirely from the daily specials! Based on the results, a whole menu still awaits a second visit! The daily salad was a blend of radishes, smoked almonds, Basque Bleu Cheese and artichokes. This was a nice refreshing start after a very busy day standing at the nearby Javits Center show. For an entrée they offered a milk-poached veal that was sliced paper thin and butter soft, served with peas and snap peas. Dessert was a lemon scented cake, a perfect conclusion and not too heavy for the upcoming two-hour show.

A trip to New York is always exciting. Finding great food like this always makes the trip more enjoyable, even when the day is filled with work and countless hours on your feet. With these seven places added to the scores of others we have sampled in the city, we know we will never go hungry in New York. Actually, the opposite might occur. We won’t know which of the many outstanding places to visit! This is a nice problem to have. 47 East Houston Street New York, NY 10012 212-219-7693 239 West Broadway Avenue New York, NY 10013 212-219-2777 35 E 21st Street New York, NY 10010 212-913-9659 25 Cooper Square New York, NY 10003 212-228-3344 29 E 29th Street New York, NY 10016 212-651-3800 42 Grove Street New York, NY 10014 240 9th Avenue New York, NY 10001 212-242-4130

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Eat Drink Cleveland (@EatDrinkCLE)  |  September 13, 2015 at 9:30 AM

    You certainly managed to hit a lot of fabulous restaurants in just one visit – I always love eating in NYC. and now I’m really hungry!!


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