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Manhattan Solo Dining

Dining Solo #2: District, 7/13/02 (long)


Restaurants & Bars

Dining Solo #2: District, 7/13/02 (long)

CTer | Jul 14, 2002 02:26 PM

I made a reservation through Open Table, which as I mentioned assumes no one eats alone. For District, though, there was a bigger mistake: OT took a reservation for a daypart they don’t serve (weekend lunch). But a reservationist from the restaurant called me to let me know, and see if I wanted to change to dinner. Yes, and also I would only be one, at 7:30pm. Fine.

Got there a little early, as the pre-theater diners were still there. Hostess seated me at a 4-top, apologizing there was no deuce available (hey, I should mind?). Staff all quite solicitous.

Cocktail: a “District Sidecar” – Calvados, triple sec, lemon and lime juices, in a sugar-rimmed martini glass. Rather sweeter than I would have liked, but a generous pour.

Bread: very dense, crusty ficelles: olive, and with seeds outside like an “everything” bagel. Accompanied with herb butter placed over the candle so that it would melt and be used as a dip.

Amuse: Salmon tartare with horseradish crème Fraiche and caviar in a taro chip, on radish sprouts and brunoise of red, green, and yellow bell peppers. Quite zippy – excellent as bar food to keep one drinking.

App: Ceviche “Fish & Chips” of Fluke, Mackerel, Taro, and Lotus: quite a large plate of food: the hand-chopped fish (not much mackerel that I could taste, though) topped with green apple granita; a mold of grape- and yellow-teardrop tomatoes with a sort of guacamole, topped with micro-greens; and a mound of mache with treviso leaves; the dressing was light, but a little unidentifiably funky. Each element was okay on its own, but they didn’t work together for me. The chips also included some rice cracker; all were perfectly greaseless and salted only as necessary.

Wine with App: a glass of Mittnacht & Klack Riesling from Alsace, suggested by the waiter. I think maybe a gewurtztraminer might have worked better.

By this point in the meal, all the pre-theater folks were gone, and the music was turned down without my asking. Good.

Main: Veal Chop Milanese with Porcini & Artichoke Ragu, Tomatoes, and a Caper Vinaigrette. A HUGE plate of food. (If anything, I might fault District for too-large portions.) The thinly-pounded chop was breaded with fine crumbs, cheese and herbs, and greaselessly fried. The ragu also included chanterelles and chunks of regular tomato, topped with baby arugula and the vinaigrette. Alongside, 3 or 4 slices of yellow tomato, sprinkled with coarse salt (fleur de sel? Not sure). Good flavor and texture contrasts, but too much food!! (There’s a $3 sharing charge, but it kind of makes sense.)

With the main: ½ bottle of 1999 Domaine Lucien Barrot et Fils Chateuneuf du Pape. Not at all tannic, but not strong enough to stand up to the veal dish. That was an unhappy surprise.

Instead of a sweet: 3 cheese plate: Trifulin, something from Sally Jackson (in Washington State), and a blue, Something de Malzieu (by now my note-taking was getting weak). Only service lapse: they brought some Comte’ instead of the Sally Jackson; but then brought that too when I pointed it out. Garnished with walnuts, dried apricots, red grapes, and some raisin/cranberry/walnut bread. Cheeses were at room temp, so their flavors came through well.

It looked as though they serve the coffee before the dessert; a bit odd to me.

I really disliked the look of the room – a mishmash of curves, straight lines, strip lights, sconces, and materials that made no sense to me. Some of it was clearly meant to evoke the theater, but it just didn’t work for me. But the banquette was comfortable, and the restroom was fine.

They make a big deal referring to Sam DeMarco’s other restaurants (First and Merge), fwiw.

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