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Manhattan

Review doubleheader with bonus shout out: Hearth, Spice Market, and Rialto

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Review doubleheader with bonus shout out: Hearth, Spice Market, and Rialto

skigirl | Dec 20, 2004 01:25 PM

Short answer should come as no surprise: Hearth, YES. Spice Market, NOT SO MUCH.

HEARTH:
Good girls, all, we shared salads to begin. Loved the arugula and shaved fennel with anchovies. The other baby lettuces salad with beets was enormous. I didn't try. For an entree, I had the pumkin tortelli. They were a little heavy (expected, I guess) but delish. Good balance of "pumkininess" (is that a word?) and sage/nuttiness flavor. The other hit entree amongst the group was the wild boar paparadelle. Of course, a couple of orders of hen of the woods went quickly....As for dessert (the good girls had had a fair amount of wine by now), I had the olive oil cake with roasted pear and burnt sugar ice cream. The cake was akin to great coffee cake without the cinnamon swirl. The burnt sugar ice cream did nothing for me. Friends loved the apple cider doughnuts but couldn't finish them. The service was excellent, but I must admit I had the same server 2x in a row there. While she's nice and tries hard, she comes across as REALLY pretentious for an EV locale--even one that serves higher end food.

SPICE MARKET:
Against my better judgment, I accepted the invite of friend of mine who had a reservation. I'm no fan of the Meatpacking district restaurant scene, but was curious to try the place out again, since I had been there only when it first opened. The first negative was the table of 15 sitting next to us. I'm glad they were having fun, but they were loud and raucuous to the point of distraction. Yet another indicator of the tourist trap the Meatpacking district has become. Though I did love my champagne cocktail (a Pattaya, as I recall), I cannot say the same for the food. Although we ordered 4 appetizers and 3 mains--chicken (samosas, satay, curry entree), shrimp (black pepper appetizer and entree w/ noodles), mushroom eggrolls, and short ribs (served with noodles), everything tasted pretty much the same. Nothing was particularly spicy. Nothing especially flavorful. Nothing remotely memorable. I did not expect awe-inspiring, but I wasn't anticipating blah. Also, while our server was nice enough, he wasn't particularly knowledgeable about the food. When asked to compare various dishes, he responded, "I don't know, EVERYTHING is great." Yeah, right.

Now I never, EVER, will feel compelled to go back again.

RIALTO SHOUT-OUT:
4 PM Saturday schlepping around downtown looking desperately for a place to sit, have a glass of wine and a light bite. With huge lines at Cafe Habana, Bread, Celi-Cela and the rest, we were running out of options: Rialto was about 1/4 full. We sat at the bar and ordered a couple of glasses of a lovely Shiraz. Disappointed to learn that they had few "snack" type things on the menu, the bartender--adorable and also extremely generous (kept refilling our glasses for free), called downstairs. Within a few minutes--a plate of tasty, garlicky bruschetta, even though they weren't really serving the dinner menu yet. Thanks Rialto! It's an attitude and service like that that makes me want to be a regular at your bar, your garden (though not in December), and those cosy red banquettes.

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