Took a quick little jaunt to the city for a few days to do some eating and some more eating. I had a list of about 25 places I wanted to visit but the weather was so beautiful it seemed like a shame to be inside for all that time, so needless to say the list got abbreviated...here are the highlights
Pigs Feet Milanese with Rice Beans and Arugula, the feet were deliciously gelatinous and flavored quite nicely, but the breading was over browned which detracted slightly from the pleasure of the feet, the arugula was spicy and properly dressed which was a good contrast to the rich feet
Winter Beet Salad with Ricotta Salata, perfectly cooked and seasoned beets with a deliciously salty Ricotta Salata, very simple and very satisfying
Warm Tripe "alla Parmigiana" I can't say enough about how good this tripe was, very very subtle tripe "aroma" meltingly tender(I mean you didn't have to chew it, just press it up against the roof of your mouth and let it dissolve) slightly spicy tomato braising liquid coating them and covered with freshly shaved parm...absolutely exquisite!
Calf's Brain "Francobolli" beautiful little "postage stamp" size squares of ravioli filled with a very delicate and subtly flavored brain/cheese/herb mixture, tossed with just a bit of butter, lemon and sage. A very delicate and perfect pasta.
Beef Cheek Ravioli with Squab Liver Sauce and Black Truffle (can you tell I like offal?)
This has been one of my favorite pasta dishes since the place opened, and continues to be so. Meltingly tender and mashed beef cheeks make up the filling in this delicate ravioli and then sauced with pureed squab liver that is absolutely satin like in texture and gloss, then a bit of what I sense is truffle oil and a sparse amount of truffle bits...I say delicate but it is a mouthful of flavor
and then entrees
at this point I was thinking I overordered and I was right I did
Barbecued Skirt Steak w/ endive alla Piastra
ordered it rare/mr and thats exactly how it arrived, covered in spicy seasonings and a delicious crispy char on the outside, I can't tell what the endive was like because I don't remember eating it.
Duck with Celery Root and Pomegranates or pickled turnips or something....it really was a blur, but the duck was cooked perfectly, seasoned properly and the two bites I had were delish, remember the pickled baby turnips as being particularly tasty.
All this was washed down by a Quartino of something or other and a bottle of Paolo Bea Sagrantino '97
Walked in on Sunday night at 730 with no reservations and the two of us were offered a table but chose to take the two seats at the end of the bar as this allows you to view most of the downstairs dining room. Excellent dining experience
Artisanal for Lunch on Monday(I'll try to be a bit more brief, although the food and service were Excellent)
Escargots Pithiviers were tender meaty, sweet and perfectly cooked snails encased in crunchy puff pastry set on a pool of garlic sage butter...perfect hors d.
Artisanal Blend Fondue (Emmenthaler/Gruyere/Beaufort and I can't remember the other cheese) perfectly smooth and blended with just a bit of Sauvignon Blanc and Kirsch, ordered with a side of Air Dried Beef which is house cured and dried...great fondue.
Tuna Salad Nicoise, perfectly simple and well executed seemingly standard dish nowadays, seared rear tuna and cured tuna atop a mound of well dressed haricots vert, tomato vinaigrette and some olives.
Seared Crispy Skate with Blood Orange "Grenobloise"...
this was a showstopper! Perfectly Crispy exterior and meltingly tender flesh atop small bits of roasted cauliflower, tiny heavily buttered(and I mean that as good)croutons and capers and segments of blood orange with the sauce of blood orange juice nicely acidic and properly buttered, served with a small dollop of puree of chou fleur which when I detected a slight nuttiness and asked if there were nut oil in it was told there was some aged goat cheese grated into it....Absolutely delish and I can't wait to make it for myself...
We had a cheese selection for dessert(after resting for about 10 minutes) 3 cheeses Chevrot, Pont Leveque and Serpa(from Portugal). Had never had Serpa before and was pleasantly surprised with the creamy texture and strong after taste, I dressed it up with a bit of lavender honey and black pepper and it was truly a treat, the Pont Leveque was properly aged and the Chevrot was no different than any other Chevrot I have had.
Washed all this down with a Viognier from Martine and polished the cheeses off with a glass of Passito.
I will def return to this place, the room is much nicer than when it was An American Place and the food is very very well prepared. Service was excellent and very accomodating after a small mixup with the dessert wine.
Joe's Pizza (near Bleeker and 6th Ave) went there at the rec of a friend and was stunned by how crispy and tasty the crust was on this pizza( you could hold it straight out and it wouldn't flop) simple tomato sauce and decent cheese, topped with pepperoni, one of the best slices to be found!
Balthazar(totally mobbed on Sunday afternoon)
Could only manage one seat at the bar. Great service from the bartenders, ordered 3 different types of oysters, shrimp and stone crab claws. All were fresh but the shuckers could use a little more care in opening the oysters, I hate when they are slashed up a bit. The Moonstone oysters from RI were awesome with just a little mignonette on them. the Nootka Sound and Fanny Bays weren't as good as I've remembered them in the past. It was fun to people watch and just hang out for a bit, man that place is busy.
Brasserie 360...decided to try this place specifically for a few dishes that were mentioned in Grimes' review a couple weeks ago...To say that I was displeased with the sushi would be an understatement. Ordered the eel salad which was three miniscule pieces of tepid(not warm eel) on top of large chunks of cucumber which wasn't dressed at all. The Toro Tartare wasn't fatty at all and seemed like it was just smashed tuna with no flavor at all even with the fairly lame avocado sauce on top( nothing in comparison to the Toro Tartare at Nobu or at Uni here in Boston for that matter).
The Crispy Crepinette of Pigs' Feet was delicious though, so perhaps that part of the kitchen is holding up its end of the deal. Perfectly braised and well flavored, nicely gelatinous and packed into a little bundle wrapped in caul fat and seared, served with a slice of black truffle and a well reduced madeira sauce.
Tao...what a room!!!!! Just go and see it, that's all I'm gonna say about that. Did have a delicious appetizer of BBQ'D Chilean Sea Bass with a delicious Kabayaki glaze served over a few grilled asparagus spears(was good enough that I ordered another one). Spicy Tuna Rolls were no better or worse than anywhere else. Place was pretty well packed on a Monday night, when other places in the area that I wanted to try were already closed.
Payard Patisserie...one of the best croissants ever and a pretty good cream filled donut too(Boule de Berlin)
Great dive bar in the village called The Back Fence was pretty entertaining.
Milady's in the village was a good place for drinks too.
Will return soon!