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Chimichurri Grill < report

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Chimichurri Grill < report

allie | Jul 8, 2001 09:13 AM

All I can say is 'Wow.' Perhaps this is due to the fact that I don't dine out all that often and, when I do, it is at some chain restaurant eating bland and uninteresting food. Last night, however, was a treat. I had read about this place in Bon Appetit and on your website, so I decided to give it a try.

I made reservations a week ago. I don't know what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn't a quaint, faintly lit, oak-paneled restaurant. As soon as we walked in the door, a man who i took to be the owner greeted us (there was only one other party dining at the time) and asked if i was Allison. Again, not eating at high-class places too often, I'm not used to this special treatment. So it made me feel really wonderful and taken care of.

We sat down at the table, and a waiter immediately came and reccommended an Argentinean wine for our meal. We ordered it, and the wine did really pick up all the wonderful flavors of the food very well.

Now, on to the good part. The food was absolutely amazing. Better than Mesa Grill (which is the only big-name restaurant in New York at which I've eaten, hence my gauge for all others). I started with the polenta appetizer, which for me was the only non-exciting part of the meal. The texture and subtle corn flavor of the polenta itself were very satisfying to a first-time polenta eater, and it was served with a melted Argentinean blue cheese. For me, the cheese was just too strong. However, on a theoretical level, it must have paired very well with the smooth, lovely polenta.
My brother had gazpacho-- magnificent! Everything gazpacho should be. The vegetables (yellow and red tomatoes, corn, cucumber, jalepeno) were finely chopped, but still recognizable, not at all pureed. The abundant pile of vegetables sat in a mild tomato broth, not at all similar to the canned tomato juice which finds itself the base of gazpacho in many sub-par eateries.

Also worth mentioning are the rolls that the waiter served us with the appetizer. The bread itself wasn't all that great, but it was served with a delicious dip - mashed chickpeas, olive oil, lots of garlic, and probably loads of other spices. Yum.

Now, for the main course. Let me preface this by saying that eating my dish was probably the most truly sensational 15-minutes of food that I've ever experienced. I ordered the rack of lamb, served with garlic mashed potatoes. At the waiter's reccommendation, I ate the rack of lamb medium rare, which was absolutely wonderful. At first, it was a bit shocking to bite into the lamb and meet with a chewy, silky, buttery, and not at all fibrous texture. I don't think I've every eaten such perfectly-cooked meat. The lamb was encrusted in herbs and, together with the rich lamb, just exploded in my mouth. Everything - the textures, the flavors - was perfect. My brother ate one of the specials of the night, a butterflied piece of Argentinean beef, pounded very thin, with chimichurri sauce and served with mixed baby greens. The beef, though not as exciting as the lamb, was cooked to tender perfection, and the sauce was very very good. With our meal, we shared a plate of "special" Argentinean fries. They were quite good (crispy and herbed, not too potato-ey), and the two types of chimichurri sauce with which they were served were very savory.

Now for dessert. I ordered, mainly because of the reccommendation from this site, the lavendar flan. Wow! I have never before tasted lavendar, but it was a beautiful, subtle flavor. What was incredible, though, wasn't the flavor but the TEXTURE of the flan. It was smooth and creamy and rich and buttery - everything that made-from-a-box flan isn't. I really can't find enough words to describe the amazing texture of this flan. It was served with a light lavendar-caramel sauce which was delicious as well. My brother ate an apple crepe. Instead of being a thin crepe filled with apple, which is what we both expected, there was actually apple in the batter, and it was served as one thicker pancake. It was very good, though not as exquisite as my flan. Perhaps it was a tad dry because, in an attempt to keep kosher (not mixing meat and dairy), my brother ordered it without the dulce de leche ice cream with which it is usually served.

Oh, I cannot forget to mention the service. Because the restaurant was not at all busy when we were there (probably because it was after when the shows all started), several waiters/owners(?) were standing at the bar, fraternizing a little but mostly being very quiet. I did not find this at all to be a distraction. In fact, i think it was very nice. It made me feel taken care of and a bit pampered even. Our waiter was extremely attentive, very helpful with the food, and refilled our wine and water glasses constantly. We did not have to wait terribly long for our food. In that regard, the service was perfect. We had just enough time after finishing each course to appreciate what we had just eaten, have nice conversation, and prepare for the next. Overall, a wonderful experience.

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