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Prune Revisited

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Prune Revisited

cabrales | Oct 8, 2003 08:57 AM

I had a late dinner at Prune last night, with an excellent monkfish liver dish resampled. The cuisine was generally good even leaving aside the monkfish liver, but the dining room assistance was poor.

-- Deep Fried Oysters at $7-8. Began with some items from the "bar" menu, which remain available when one is seated at a table (diners should inquire, as there are different items). A bargain, given there were four relatively large Malpeques. Good use of Panko bread crumbs for a lighter, Tonkatsu-like effect in deep frying. Tartar sauce accompanying the dish was not too dense.

Had this with a glass of Guy Larmandier Vertus Brut Rose at $17. Here is where the service begins to be deplorable. I asked the dining room team member whether this was champagne (I was almost sure it was, but this is a smaller producer and I try not to take in non-champagne sparkling wines, so I double-checked by asking), and where in Champagne this was from (I thought maybe Epernay). Anyhow, the woman said it was champagne and did not tell me whether it was from. Then she goes over to the barman, and, within hearing distance of me (albeit with my good hearing capabilities), she laughed with him about how all champagne is from Champagne. I beckoned her over, gave her a quizzical look, and asked where in Champagne this is from again. Obviously, later on, she figured out what the question was.

Throughout the evening, there was a certain lack of professionalism in the non-barman serving team. I found this to detract from the meal. Although I have visited Prune at least on two prior occasions, this was the first time I noticed such poor service.

-- Marinated White Anchovies, with celery. This was average, although the white anchovies were nicely marinated. Celery was too stark for the dish, and there was textural imbalance.

-- Monkfish Liver with Buttered Toast. I have come to *really* like this dish, which is an appetizer at only $10 on the regular menu. The portion is a large size, for an appetizer, with a piece of monkfish liver literally at least as thick and large as most sauteed foie I have sampled. The texture inside the monkfish liver is outstanding, literally bringing to mind foie, but with an ocean sensation being conveyed. This is so much more expressive of monkfish liver than ankimo (sp) preparations in Japanese cuisine (e.g., Sushi Yasuda).

I paired it with Dr Burklin Wolf, Estate Rieseling 01 ($8), although this was in hindsight not an ideal glass with the soy elements expressed in the monkfish dish.

I realized there were multiple dimensions to this dish analytically, that I had not realized before. The briny ocean sensations in the monkfish liver were amazingly paired with the foie-like texture of the item. But there was also a potential play on the use of a soy-based saucing with ocean sensations -- perhaps a reference to sushi being accompanied by soy sauce, or certain Cantonese steamed fish preparations being accompanied by hot soy-sauce in oil (sometimes poured over the fish at the last minute). Then, there was a potential play on the Asian ingredient of soy, relative to the more US/European ingredient of butter on the buttered toast. An excellent dish.

-- Decent selection of dessert wines by the glass, including the Inniskillin (Riesling version) 01 Ice wine for $21/glass. I had originally contemplated the Darrozze Special Reserve Armagnac (that's the father of Helene D), but the restaurant was out of this particular offering.

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