i've been glancing at the papered up windows for weeks now, and was so excited to see that it finally opened! on the lower east edge of the lower east side (or east of chinatown, depending on how you're oriented), it's local foods, vegetarian-minded (but inclusive of chicken and fish). peter berley, the chef who was ousted months ago would have called it locavore flexitarian. the new chef, lee gross, doesn't seem to want to waste his time labeling it-- the dinner was incredible enough that i don't really mind what it was called!
here's a dailycandy link about it if you want to read a quick thing about the space, etc. (www.dailycandy.com/new_york/article/3...) i want to get right to what we ate! i will say that the space was warm and inviting and that the booths are super comfortable.
we had two apps at our table: the baby cauliflower frito misto w/ wild arugula, crispy capers and cauliflower lemon emulsion and the mushroom pate with a celeriac remoulade, pickled trompets and baguette toasts. both were sensational. the cauliflower was so tender and the combination of flavors with the sharp arugula and the tangy emusion was perfect. fried yet somehow refreshing will always excite me. the pate was was very smooth and earthy and well complemented by the slaw.
the mains were amazing. we had between us: black cod and vegetable oden w/sweet miso broth, black soybeans and yuzu; crispy coconut tempeh w/winter curry, whipped sweet potato, and spicy greens; and portobello e noce nero w grilled millet polenta, porcini mushroom ragout, and sauteed cavelo nero.
mine was the cod. oh my. seriously, it was magical. the thing arrived in a porcelain pot sealed with yuzu ( a kind of soy "sheet" you get from boiling soymilk and letting it cool) that was fired like the top of a creme brulee into a crisp cover that i broke through to reveal the incredible fragrances beneath. the cod itself melted in my mouth. i wish i was still eating it right now!! the broth was amazing. the vegetables were kombucha squash, lotus root, some large roasted disks that may have been in the water chestnut family, the black soybeans added mini explosions of flavor-- i don't know what exactly did it, but i spent the meal in a kind of reverie that lasted beyond the length of the dinner.
i tasted the other two plates when i could manage to and they were both amazing. the coconut tempeh was ridiculous. my tablemate who ordered it maintains it is among the best things she's ever eaten, and only allowed a few bites off her plate. the portobello was fantastc as well. all the dishes were impeccably presented and were nicely complemented by the flavors accompanying. the chef clearly thought things through. and it worked.
wow-- this is getting really long. sorry guys! dessert was fine, though it didn't match the heights of the apps and entrees. the chai bread pudding was the best of what we had, especially for the dollop of housemade ice cream. the peanut butter cheesecake was okay, but i wouldn't order it again. my guess is that they will need to tweak their desserts to meet the standards set by the rest of the meal, but there were others that we didnt try...
anyway, all in all it was incredibly satisfying -- which was nice because i did have high hopes to begin with-- and i'm looking forward to going back!! there;s some more to tell, but dang-- daylight savings just happened and now i really better go to sleep! oy. happy eating, hounds....