Restaurants & Bars

Manhattan Dinner



Restaurants & Bars 4


kiki aru | Oct 2, 2004 01:00 AM

So today at around 4 oclock this afternoon i get an email from FoodDemon saying that he and his partner were invited to a pre-opening meal thing at cafe g and would i like to come?

I literally RAN to the subway, RAN to my house, cantered quickly and efficiently to the shower, ran BACK to the subway, and got to "the mawl" -- as we brooklynites and aol aficianados call it - to worship at the altar of gray kunz.

and of course it's not fair to really review the place -- the whole thing way for "friends and family" (not interlopers like me, but that's another story) and they're still testing the waters.

that said -- it's a terrific restaurant. Yeah, I'm getting a bit tired of adam tihany's muted palettes and geometric shapes and everything, but i think he acquits himself nicely with this one. It's a parisian brasserie thing but with a twist -- the kitchen is open and along with the pastry station it extends across the length of the restaurant, which -- even though there aren't any window seats (except for a chef's table, which my god, if you have the opportunity you should take it!) -- gives the whole thing a homey little buzz.

We started with cocktails -- some tamarind thing, a sidecar with lemon verbena (which could have use more verbena actually) and an apple martini thing. All were fine, but not great.

First courses were a raw hamachi dish which was really really nice, a fine lobster chowder with mussels and (i THINK) lovage oil -- but it may have been some other oil, and (my fave) three grilled shrimp skewered on a sugar cane with fresh mint, a remoulade of kaffir lime, and the MOST gorgeously brunoised green mango and pineapple.

then, because we were all little pigs, we had to get a mid course thing -- and they were so nice to accomodate us: they split two apps: the risotto with mushrooms (which is still gorgous although the rice could have been a bit more cooked) and a toasted sweet corn ravioli with truffles, which was nice, but dwarfed by over the top deliciousness of the risotto (my other two companions, to be fair, loved the ravioli).

Mains were the short ribs with mustard and grits -- which was the hands down slam dunk of the meal for all of us, a langoustine with salt cod that came in a gastrique-ish "sauce" but it wasn't a sauce really, and some vegetables. This was fine, but i wouldn't order it again, the way i would the short rib, with that sick compulsivity i get around certain dishes. the other dish was controversial for us: it was a lobster tail with diced watermelon and tomato. it was kind of spicy, and it was -- weird. I don't think it actually worked very well, although the lobster was perfect (the quality, btw, of all the ingredients was faultless, impeccable) - it seems like maybe not the best match for watermelon. The tomato seemed kinda cloying...a bit like reduced tomato juice. It was a risky dish, but it didn't come together for me.

Desserts however -- MY GOD - yeah they were amazing.

Gorgeous cheese plate, followed by a hazelnut souffle that brought me RIGHT back to the old salad days at Lespinasse, rosted pear in some kind of caramel with olives and pistachios (this combination is derivative of sam mason, but it was really nice), and an apple thing, and then this decadent, thrilling sorbet platter with about ten different kinds of sorbet all in their own little silver pods, each scoop nestled in something - - a dehydrated apple chip, or supersized vanilla sugar crystals, etc. -- it was so theatrical and fun.

the petit fours, by the way are also great -- and there's that marvelous, goofy panko/lavender/white chocolate thing from lespinasse as well...

It's not a four star, no but it's a terrific, luxe, fairly priced (although for us it was free, hee hee, we just paid tip) unpretentious brasserie (and YES i wish it were not in a mall, but i got over that) with terrific service and generally very good food -- which is certain to get better and better in due course.

The restaurant btw will officially open on monday or tuesday according to the waiter, in case you're interested...



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