Well, so much for my plans on going to Mara's Homemade (see below) while the wife has a business dinner. Instead, I changed my reservation to be able to finally try Wylie Dufresne's place a shot.
And damn skippy am I glad I did.
Getting there via subway was easy from work, but getting out of there to go home is no small feat, at least to where I live...but who cares...
Castillar Cooler (rum, apry, soda, palo cortado and apricot paper). I still have to look up most of these ingredients but I can tell you that this was wonderful. A very sophisticated drink. Certainly as sophisticated as one can get using rum. Wow. Off to a good start.
Flat bread, which was very non-uniform in shape, size and seasoned, was quite good. It was light enough not to weigh you down, although I ate the whole box of them (really not that much). Covered in black and white sesame seeds, these were just fine to start with.
Corned Duck, rye crisp, purple mustard and horseradish cream. Three small hors d'oevre sized pieces were served. Not sure how to put this...but there was no guess work on this one. It tasted exactly as I'd imagine it would taste. I mean, to the point where it seemed I'd had it before. This is neither a compliment nor a critique, however I would say that this is a great "safe bet" option for those less adventurous. Still very good. Lacks the wow factor though. Although perhaps the rye crisp was better than I thought it would be...a little.
I was completely unsure of what I wanted. I reviewed the website several times before going today (and in the past) trying to determine what it was I'd order. I was lost. It was either the pork belly (I'm not a big pork fan, but love bacon), the lamb or the short ribs and flatiron beef. In the end, Gina's (my waitress) description of the pork belly as being "decadent" won me over. Let me just say...decadent is the tip of the iceberg. Holy moly! I was in shock after my first bite. I truly was. The pork belly was crispy, tender and plush all in the right spots. The black soy and turnip added a really interesting, albeit dry-ish, contrast to the pork. The thing that was so remarkable that I am still floating from it was the tomato based sauce that accompanied it. It was made with pork sauce, star anise and tabasco and I have to tell you, I hope I never ever forget that taste. Wow.
I wasn't going to have dessert, but felt that it would be an injustice to pastry chef Sam Mason. So, I ordered the milk chocolate hazelnut parfait, with orange reduction. Basically, this was a glorified kit kat bar. It was very tasty, but like others, feel compelled to argue the value of this dessert. It was very good, don't get me wrong, just not sure if it was "worth" it. I could have easily been satisfied with a walk over to Il Laboratorio del Gelato and saved 6 bucks. Whatever.
Last but not least
Curry almonds. YUM! They served me, with the bill ($69.53 before tip, but including tax) about six of these and they didn't stand a chance. Yum. It was like taking a bite out of Kalustyians.
Service was perfect. Not pushy, not too fast, not too slow, water filled a bit overzealously, but I'll look past that. The pork dish required water anyhow. The hostess, for those that watch Deadwood, reminded me of Joanie Stubbs (in a very good way), and quite frankly took me by surprise a little.
The space was interesting. It made you focus on the food. There isn't really much to look at. The fireplace is nice and the "portrait" of petrified-wood-looking granite (I think, I really don't know) along one wall was fine, but everything seemed to bring you back down to your plate. The lighting was definitely a culprit in that as well.
Well, its in a strange neighborhood, or rather one that seems as eclectic as the dishes. Worth getting to.
The "Small Portion" Debate
I have to say, I like to eat. And sometimes I overeat because I enjoy the food so much. Well, after tonight's dinner, I was more than satisfied. Man I can still taste everything in waves (I just got a wave of the curry almonds) and I'm really enjoying it.
That's pretty much it.
Here are some of the dishes I ate (I hope this works):