I just wanted to report on my Chowish weekend with my mom in town. She's not very adventurous, but never one to pass up a fine dining experience, so we decided on these three. My girlfriend and I live in Brooklyn, so the Grocery was a must.
Gramercy Tavern - We decided on the back room, even though at 7:00 on Thursday the tavern room had a few tables left. The service was impeccable from start to finish. Everyone was pleasant and accommadating and the waitress knew every dish and offered great wine and cheese recommendations. The food was very good. I had the sweetbreads to start. They were very tender and good, but since I don't usually eat beef, I don't know if I appreciated their subtlety enough. My girlfriend and mom each had the lobster, and they both enjoyed it very much. For an entree, I had the cod and it too was very good. We got a few cheeses, which were very nice, and as I said the waitress was very helpful in choosing with us. For dessert, I had a fig tart with pistachio ice cream. Looking back, this was the best course. the figs were sweet and the tart was nice and buttery, but the pistachio ice cream was amazing. It wasn't salty or bitter, like pistachio can taste, but instead had an essence of pistachio which is indescribable. Overall, a very pleasant dinign experience. The tab was around $400 for the three of us including tip.
Grocery - On Friday night, we went to the Grocery. Of course, the justification for the Zagat rating was tops in our mind, so that is unfortunately the standard at which it will now be judged. When we came in, the front room was mostly empty, but when we asked to sit outside, we were relieved to find the garden full. The first and biggest difference between this restaurant and Gramercy Tavern or any other notorious New York restaurant was the service. It must have been our waitress' first night because she was unfamiliar with the menu and the wine list. We asked what was on the seasonal vegetable plate and she didn't know! We asked for wine recommendations and she had no clue. She offered another server to come over which we accepted who was very helpful, but it still is unfortuante. To start, we shared a vegetable plate, the beet salad, and the french fry salad. I thought everything was good, but not as great as my girlfriend and mom thought. The vegetables had a rich creamy sauce on them, which I thought totally wasted the freshness of the vegetables. My entree faired better. I got the fluke, which came with deliciously fresh tomatoes and was served on cheesy bread. It sounds strange, but it was delicious. For dessert we split the peach cobbler, and it was wonderful as well. The food was just as good as any of the best restaurants I had been to, and instead of exotic or complicated ingredients, it was for the most part refreshingly simple. Tab was around $240 including tip.
Thalia - We went here for brunch before Avenue Q (great show!) and I had the asparagus frittata. It was good and Thalia is unfortunately one of the few decent restaurants for brunch in the theater district.
Aqaugrill - By now, we were pretty overwhelmed with food and drink, but decided to tough it out for one last night. To start, we shared a dozen oysters of 6 varieties and the crab cake appetizer. Oysters were wonderful, a nice selection and when done right, always a treat. The crab cakes were fabluous, lightly fried, moist in the middle and had a spicy jalepeno sauce. For dinner, I had the falafel-crusted salmon. This too was excellent, one of the best salmon dishes I've ever had. Girlfriend had the bouillabaise which was nice and mom had the tuna - also good, but the salmon was the best. We skipped dessert, just too much food, and savored our nice bottle of wine. Tab was $240 including tip.
An indulgent weekend, and one I am happy to share with people who appreciate it.