Wednesday, April 1, 2015

SANTINA

Every review I've seen thus far about Major Food Groups newest addition to the family has begun with mention of the Insta-summer sensation attainted as soon as you step inside Santina, escaping this year's endless winter.   So it might be redundant to do the same, but the contrast is so striking: literally, we passed through a glass door from intermittent flurries of snow to the palpably celebratory atmosphere of Santina, staff clad in a floral print dresses and white oxford shirts with turquoise trousers.  Palm trees fan out to buffer the geometric modernist architecture of room, designed by Renzo Piano.  But another
 contrasting element might catch your attention first: wildly whimsical Murano glass chandeliers dominate the decor, sporting vibrant glowing sunflowers, pastel orchids and pink pineapples sprouting from arching limbs of faceted glass.  These are truly the focal point of the restaurant... or are, at least, until the menus arrive.



These menus are bewitching, initially, to say the least.  Jubilantly printed a bright summery hues, the mystery of their listings might go temporarily unnoticed.  But without a proper q&a with your server, the tuna carpaccio in the Tricolore salad could come unwelcomely,  and what is in a pasta alla Norma, again, please?  Okay, so I knew these two, but not everyone can be expected to.  In fact, we felt as though we attained a few extra points on our virtual SAT scores (Santina Aptitude Test) when we deduced that under the Rice + Pasta heading, that the first three listings were the add-ins to savory pilaf-style dishes, and the remainder were the pastas.  These are main dishes.  None of this is necessarily clear at first glance however, so it's best to ask your server about everything, even if it would seem obvious, because curves are rife throughout.  I mean, a Tricolore Salad listed simply as such, apparently includes tuna carpaccio, which could be a potentially undesirable addition for multiple reasons, depending on the diner (although it has been receiving accolades).  Plus, they are used to it, so much so so that I'm not sure they will eventually change this enigmatic format (though I think it would behoove them to do so).  Time will tell.  Until then, about those rice dishes: they might be prepared in a pilafy manner for a reason,  to act as sponges for the saucy quality many of the dishes we tried exhibited.  There is no bread provided nor on offer, so all those brothy juices might potentially go to waste.  So it was with the Bass
 Agrigento, colorful and flavorful in an abundant sautee of sweet peppers, but the delicate fish suffered a bit from the wateriness of the brothy juices below.  Perhaps swapping it out with a richer fish- say, the Swordfish Dogana, which for its own sake was bedded in hearty white beans.  Pairing the bass with a less aqueous bedfellow, and the sturdier swordfish providing the peperonata with a sounder base.  (Just a thought.)  Both are still successful options, however, as Chef Mario Carbone intended them.

Prior to that, and perhaps stronger than the entrees, come Cecina (bites) and appetizers, which fall under the guise of Fish + Vegetables (not sure what they'll do if  Mario ever wants to introduce a meaty h'ors d'oeuvre into the mix).  
Beets Siciliana strike a laudable balance with the contrasting seasonality inside and out, perking up sugar-dense, hearty beets with bright citrus and a thick, pistachio-studded yogurt.  We couldn't figure out what the shredded greenery atop was, crisp and mild, but it turned out to be fennel, perhaps marinated or seasoned to some degree which imparted a pleasant, bitter edge that
overrode it's natural sweetness.  Normally, Sicilian preparation connotes a sweet and sour element, which was sort of elevated and  adapted to achieve these beets.   A true crowd-favorite thus far is the Artichokes & Grapes,  which combines meaty braised and crisply fried artichokes with stewed grapes and hazelnuts.  The grapes are cooked soft and winey, the artichokes both nutty and earthy in their two different renditions, a garlicky white dressing enforcing the savoriness of the dish, which does turn out to taste lighter than it's rich ingredient list might imply.

Another of Major's restaurant, Carbone, features a mushrooms sautee so stellar that at each of their subsequent restaurants, I am constitutionally required to order the indigenous version.  Here at Santina, they're a close rival to Carbone's: big, fat oyster mushrooms grilled to a toasty char on the edges and swimming in a pool of herb-flecked oil... perhaps with which I could've done with a little less off, but the fungi themselves were magnificently delicious.




Back to the Rice + Pasta, we selected the signature Chitarra Santina, an surf-and-turf square-cut spaghetti tossed with plump tomatoes and shell-on clams, spicy nuggets of lamb sausage and summery ribbons of zucchini.   Lamb and clams... my brother would be SO proud.  Spaghetti Blue Crab was a close-running second option, maybe slightly influenced by the broken-plate composite mural on the far wall, painted brilliant blue and galvanizing dreams of a seaside voyage to the Amalfi coast.  But at Santina, far as feelings go, you're almost there.







820 WASHINGTON STReET
 212-254-3000








Saturday, March 14, 2015

KIIN

A buzzy new Thai has opened up in the NYU nabe, taking over what was the fast-foodish Cafetasia to birth a sister restaurant to the hyper-popular Somtum Der even further east.  I've never been over to that one, but its popularity seems to have transferred successfully.  Even in these incipient days of soft opening, the tables were enthusiastically occupied, a steady stream of student walk-ins, 8th Street passersby, and a hodge-podge of in-the-know-fooderati and other curious diners.





The room reminds me of Tom Sawyer's fence, thickly white-washed to mask all evidences of it predecessor's clubby black modernism.  A few illuminated Buddha statuettes and distressed mirrors break up the stark, farmhousy feel, but mostly it is the jubilance of the staff that creates the ambiance.   Servers and busboys may harbor some distinct linguistic frailties, but they are quick to fetch someone who can attend to your needs, with beaming smiles all along.  The person they will most likely fetch, too, is the indefatigable floor manager, who guidance was both well-given and well-taken.  I thought he was maybe an owner, but Phakphoom Sirisuwat and Supanee Kitmahawong are a younger, male/female duo, and chef Kornthanut Thongnum (yes, I'm glad they didn't name the restaurant after its proprietors) was certainly busy in the kitchen to be romping about the floor.   But our guide was so endearingly charming, he alone would motivate a return visit, even if the food wasn't alluring enough.  Thankfully, it is. 


We went with quite a few of his suggestions, the first of which he declared his favorite, a fragrant duck soup.  It's a strikingly flavorful bowl, the ruddy broth lurking below a similarly profound layer of vermillion oil.  How he could remain so lithe and consume this on a regular basis remains as mysterious as the nuanced layers of flavor, sweet and floral, bright and spicy, fruity and rich.  I was equally mystified about how to consume it: the oil slick constituted a barrier, to me, between the curry-inflected soup beneath, the hunks of rich duck meat and random fruity bits of loquat and grapes within.  Stirring things up dissipated some of the oil, but it might still be off-putting to the even remotely bikini-conscious.  Also, as the philosophy of the restaurant dictates sharing any and all.... 
How to Eat at Kiin

... so I wasn't sure how the flat plates in front of each of us could be used in divvying up a soup, so we ended just spooning from the same bowl, hoping all that heat and spice were somewhat antibacterial.  The rice we ordered didn't arrive 'til a bit later, too, which helped absorb both  the broth and some of the mounting heat: few dishes here are without punch.  Speaking of absorption, I figured out a way to un-fry food when an enormous bowl of braised chicken-leg curry noodles arrived crowned with a tangled mass of crispy fried noodles atop.  Given enough time in the gravy-like broth, the fried noodles achieved almost the same consistency as the boiled ones underneath, although (of course) adding some of their inherent richness to thicken the broth into a substantial sauce: little of the food at Kiin is rabbity fare, although the brightness,  balance and heat of everything belies some of its caloric impact.  

A good example of the brightness comes in the form of a corn salad, who's fishy funk was initially obscured with tang and spice.  Interspersing bites with other richer dishes, however, unearthed a the bracing smack of dried shrimp, so best consume this refreshing salad before the heat of most other dishes expose your palate to its nuances best left more subtle.   Supple salted eggs, hard-boiled, perch atop and help dissipate the flavors; the crunchy long beans and bulbous cherry tomatoes are left raw for the same reasons.   I feel like this is a good example of "authentic" Thai flavors: they can be an assault left to their own devices, but in convergence with all partnering elements, result in some tantalizing
 combinations.  Less thrilling may have been an offering from the Vegetarian section, tasty a plate of vegs though they were.  Griddled pucks of tofu fortified a sautee of asparagus and shiitakes, not much different than what you might find in any Thai/Chinese/Vietnamese/Pan-Asian joint, but in 
no way offensive.   Our next dish did offer up a bit of an insult- or at least to my taste, those lovely clusters of what turned out to be pickled peppercorns are definitely garnish and not palatable.  Spicy, pickly, fishy and bitter- and really, just plain stinky-  they were only visually appealing: what the menu qualifies as "unique fragrance" might originate from these funky bunches, and they should be left 
to the periphery along with the fibrous kaffir lime leaves .  The rest of the Pad Chaa, on the other hand, was highly edible, aggressively spiced with fiery chilis and garlic, although I think I would've preferred the seedy orbs of eggplant sauteed along with the fat shrimp and tender cylinders of squid,  instead of raw or nearly raw as they seemed to be.  


Kiin offers a smattering of dessert options as well,  but we couldn't finish what we had ordered as it were, so finished things off sharing a pot of green tea,  served in rough clay mugs with no handles, allowing your hands to appreciate the warm, rough texture of the rustic clay.  It feels simultaneously invigorating and soothing, warm and authentic and sort of Zen, which is much the sentiment I garnered from Kiin itself.  







36 E.8th Street (Between University Place & Broadway)
Tel. 212.529.2363



Saturday, February 14, 2015

DIRTY FRENCH

I thought Dirty French was going to be a francophilic Carbone, and to that end, I have to admit to a scintilla of disappointment.  A new addition to Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi's  unstoppable Major Food Group, Dirty French is a solid restaurant: it has all the fundamentals for staying power, especially benefitting from its location within the Ludlow Hotel.  In fact, I don't know who will benefit more... perhaps actually, the hotel.  But  it's just not as theatrical (nor as "dirty") as I anticipated it to be.
 The snazzy, cheeky hot pink neon signage at the door hinted in the direction of my expectations, and the room, dark and swanky, reinforced an air of edge and grit.  Even a row of disturbing, drippy-eyed smoking clowns gave an impression of drama.  But throughout the evening, the restaurant takes on a much more normal vibe- and despite price points that rival Carbone's, the "show" part of dinner-and-a-show that makes Carbone so exceptional does not seem to manifest itself at Dirty French.

The bread course, however, could qualify as a show in itself.  It was easily the most memorable and exciting component of the meal- arriving on its own silver pedestal, sided with a creamy whipped cow's milk cheese sprinkled with fresh herbs.  The flatbread was piping hot, chewy and pliant, salty and buttery.  These were the attributes I was expecting from Dirty French across the board- sort of classy and slutty at the same time.  Like the tagline for the Cosmopolitan Hotel: just the right amount of wrong.  It felt a little taboo to eat it.. it was little too rich, too many carbs, and just too delicious to keep your teeth out of.

From that point on, the restaurant became a more expected, typical eatery.  The prices are not listed on the website, which almost always implies steep tags.  If I recall correctly, they were marked on the stiff, cardboard menus, however, and in any case, they mirror the prices at Carbone, only at Carbone the portions are Olympic, and the atmosphere much more entertaining.  That said, we were sitting next to an annoyingly shrill pair of ladies that couldn't have been more distracting and shrieky.  It definitely didn't help our experience.  But here, you're paying simply for the cuisine (and a bumpin' 80'd soundtrack), which is admittedly solid, but I think somewhat unjustified.  That said, there is a bit of pomp: oysters are presented ceremoniously, with intricate detail of their provenance and flavor profiles.  Meaty dishes abound, classics like boudin and terrine and carpaccio fortify the h'ors d'oeuvres, all lovingly tweaked into modernity.  A Roquefort salad focused on flavorful roasted beets instead of the cheese itself, which punched up the sweet vegetable alongside crisp triangles of Asian pear and crunchy candied cashews.  Not so divergent from any typical
 beets/cheese/nuts salad we might have seen before, but the flavors were alive and robust, and at least it wasn't chevre and walnuts.  If anything, the food here might be a little too flavorful, bordering on overwhelming . Perhaps that accounts for the portion size as well: one could not eat too, too much of most plates.



For entrees there are two shareable options of chicken and cote de boeuf, and then a selection of rotisserie proteins, from which we tried the lamb saddle.   Taking the French affinity for Moroccan spices, the lamb is rubbed in cumin, then served over firm, toothsome slices of potato, enriched with lamby juices and crisp of edge.   From the
  Poissons, I chose the Provencale, which were four seared Vadouvan-spiced scallops (in English) paired with artichauts (in French).  I couldn't quite get why some terms were Frenchified, and others left en anglais: had I chosen, I would used the lovely French term of Coquilles St. Jacques rather than scallops, but then again, the whole dish was titled Provencale, which to me denotes a preparation with tomatoes and garlic, sometimes olives, none of which appeared in the dish, so what do I know.  The scallops were fresh and well-prepared, although I could've done with less of the abundant flurry of whatever flavorless herb
 was amply strewn atop.  Those artichauts, however, were earthy and tender, a fine counterpart for the curry-esque spice.  And while the scallops had those artichokes, the lamb had but potatoes, so some vegetable Accompagnements were in order.  I needed to try the mushrooms if only but to compare them to Carbone's memorably marvelous ones, and these were great... but not as great.  Or maybe I was just not enjoying myself to same extent that I did there, and the food was reflecting that.  How I'd love to compare both mushrooms side by side.. in any case it would be a win-win, because I know Carbone's were exceptional, and these were delicious, too.  Less impressive were the Haricots Asiatique, which our waiter recommended.  They were unevenly cooked, with most a little on the raw
 side, which made their excessive dressing more pronounced.   I wish I would've gone with my intial inclination, a parsleyed cabbage braise, that sounded both delicious and certainly less commonplace.









Even with the lack of fireworks through the course of the meal, we wanted to give the desserts a try, even though at this point I was disappointingly underwhelmed.  Serves me right for going in with such elevated, Carbone-esque, expectations.  Maybe I just like Mario's cooking better than Rich's, who is apparently the toque in charge here.  So we tried the Tarte, which is basically a dense bar cookie of a slice of lemon meringue pie.  It's meringue was sweet and pillowy, by far the best part of the sweet.  The curd was pleasantly sweet with a zippy tart bite, but it was a little gummy and dense atop a crust requiring a bit too much muscle to break.



In the end, Dirty French exhibits a swanky atmosphere and deft service that I might rave about in any other restaurant.  It's only that Major Food Group has set their own bar so very, very high, and the only thing that rivals that elevation here are the prices.   If Dirty French really is supposed to be an francophilic Carbone, les francaises have some catching up to do.




 180 Ludlow St, LES
212-254-3000





Tuesday, February 10, 2015

ESCA

Nothing I could write here will be of surprise to anybody who knows anything about New York's dining scene.  Esca has remained a solid, reliable, iconic destination for a decade and a half.    Its pedigreed owners, the Batali-Batianich clan, must be as proud of Esca as any of its restaurants, as Chef Dave Pasternack continues the impeccable quality and responsible stewardship of the ocean's bounty like no other.  As The New York Times so eloquently stated,
“HE’S AN HONEST-TO-GOD FISHERMAN, IN LOVE WITH THE OCEAN, AND ESCA IS HIS ONGOING ODE TO IT”.   

Service is effortlessly suave, the room just the same.  A subdued elegance pervades- even the silverware is comfortable in hand.  Keeping it in the family, I chose a full-bodied Bastianich friuliano from the expansive tome of a wine list, which held up well with all the dishes we tried.  The menu options change substantially on a daily basis, due to seasonality, sustainability and fishmermen's luck, but it is vast enough that even picky eaters will easily find treasures.  



In fact, we were welcomed with a little amuse-bouche crostino, topped with creamy slurry of garlicky white beans- a hearty, flavorful mouthful, with nary a morsel from the sea at all.   That said, the focus is fish, and their menu opens with a expertly curated array of oysters and crudo, from which we chose a precious white salmon, naked but for a drizzle of heady olive oil and a solitary pink peppercorns.  A masterpiece of simplicity.  For my own part, however, I was lured back to land by the Verdure Miste, not your typical array of grilled veg, but a lusty compilation of meltingly, devastatingly
 tender organic carrots and beets, sunchokes and artichokes, potatoes and turnip, each more delicious than the next.  They were robustly salty, slathered with an unctuous sheep's milk ricotta and a tangle of bitter greens atop.   Strangely, the "salad" was more decadent and substantial on the palate than the fish, but each sang their own unique songs of  luxury.  
 



Entrees continued on the same successful path.   Our empties were dextrously whisked away and warm plates of more glorious delicacies from the sea arrived.  I don't mean that dismissively: there is a simultaneous simplicity and depth to the cooking at Esca.  A pristine filet  of flaky, snowy cod, its skin-side sauteed to a thin crisp of gold, like how a tiny silver of burgeoning crescent illumination coddles the soft, glowy whole of the moon.   It came with a pile of tender braised sunchokes, which lose some of their nuttiness in such thorough cooking, but take on a distinct sweetness and uncommon softness.  It was balanced by an engaging agro-dolce, which also enhanced the gentle sweetness of the cod.  Two primary components turned into a combination much greater than the sum of their 
parts.  Sgombro (Spanish mackerel) achieved a meaty firmness seared on the grill, its signature fishiness countered with a savory mix of earthy wild mushrooms and leeks.  Our only misstep may have been following our server's recommendation of a side dish of roasted broccoli instead of a less common option of braised artichokes... the broccoli was (again) over-cooked to edge of mushiness: perfectly fine, in and of itself, but somewhat repetitive after its two vegetable predecessors, and also, broccoli
 is significantly more common than artichokes on local menus... as well as in my own kitchen, so it seemed less special than the 'chokes.

In the end, we skipped dessert: although the options were all estimable, I'm sure.  Exemplary  renditions of traditional Italian desserts, although I actually don't mind going a little chi-chi on the sweet end of things, which is not at all what Esca is about.  Thus, a classic tiramisu, sheep's milk cheesecake, a chocolate-hazelnut torte- I'm sure all were exquisite sweets.  They did, in fact, look quite tempting as they made their way to other tables.   Actually, I felt a little loss after we decided against them, but then, fully sated by ever other aspect of our meal, that feeling evaporated quickly.  To that end, it's hard to leave Esca without feeling anything but completely and utterly satisfied.






402 W 43RD STREET, 
Tel: 212 564 7272

Thursday, February 5, 2015

TUOME

You're probably pronouncing it wrong.  Tuome is the attempt to phonetically spell how Chef Thomas Chen's childhood nickname sounded to him: Tommy, in his parents heavily accented Chinese.  Tuome plays this out in real time, exhibiting the whimsical playfulness of a wide-eyed child brought up with equal influences Chinese and American by an extremely talented and capable chef.

The restaurant is pretty tiny; it will benefit from having GG's and Death & Co. right down the street, in terms of procuring foot traffic, since it's pushed pretty remotely over into Alphabet City.  But the raves it's been garnering on its own- and the fact that it backs them up with backflips and somersaults- should be enough to float it on its own.  They make use of every square inch of space: deep window sills are cushioned for seating and tables are... well, let's just say eavesdropping on your neighbor is a no-brainer.  But Tuome is attracting a respectable crowd, so hopefully their conversation is interesting.  If it's not, no matter.  Everything else has been paid so much attention, even the simple, matte-finish silverware is beautiful.  Rustic and uncluttered, the decor is simple as the food is complex
and profound.  The menu is contemporary American with dynamic Asian flourishes.  It's a perfect purgatory between low-brow and hi' falutin'; we began with a complimentary amuse of a warm squash soup, just several sips deep, but a luscious and soothing welcome.  It could have been a touch warmer, which was my only qualm with many of the dishes here.  My tablemate deduced that in working with such a small kitchen, most of the dishes were probably pre-fired, and then finished to order.  But they might kick up the re-fire a few notches, becaue some added heat could definitely improve many of the plates we tried.  Beets with quinoa and yogurt, cool on purpose, didn't require additional BTUs: it read like a spartan vegan cafe option, but tasted anything but.  Five-spice kicks up the yogurt, and the quinoa is toasted to such a nutty, roasty
 crunch you could mistake it for crushed almonds.  A sumptuous plate of savory, saucy mushrooms revel in sumptuous, umami-rich sauce enriched with by a wobbly poached egg.  Pierced, its golden yolk lubricates the wide, floppy ribbons of thin yubu that add dimension and chew, and amalgamate into the thick gravy over an abundance of diverse fungi- this is one of those dishes you'd go back for alone.

Actually, there's nothing I wouldn't go back for.  There're ballsier dishes on the menu like chicken liver mousse with maple and milk bread, and lots of potentially mysterious ingredients (karee, ong choi, something simply dubbed "porridge"), but that which we tried were prepared with such a deft hand, balancing oddity with convention to an a absolutely delicious end.  A delicately fried skate wing is by far the best plate I've had yet this year.  The crisp, golden exterior that Chen achieves is diaphanously light- it feels like a halo just encompassing the tender, ropey fish, making it even lighter with its addition.  That ong choi (apparently a  bok relative) gets sauteed and strewn across the top, but little nubs of roasted cauliflower fleck the periphery stole my attention, and my fork wanted to spend more time there.  I didn't need the marconas that jumped in there with rest, but it's also hard ever to argue with that lovely little nut.

Braised short ribs are precisely the way I would eat my meat always if I had my druthers.  Fork-tender, black as sin and rich as is bovinely possible, the shishito peppers which accompanied not quite making a ton of sense with the overly sweet mash of sweet potato, but the meat was distractingly good.   And I love shishitos, so I just  nibbled them as "appetizers", pairing bites of the meat, instead, with a few of the token mushrooms that were tucked in beside.

In addition to the menu's cold and hot small plates and big mains, a smattering of sides are on hand.  Brussels sprouts were charred almost beyond recognition: tasty, but they'd be better off keeping a few sprouts more intact in addition to the incinerated leaves to impart some vegetal heft.  Especially with the zesty XO sauce, grapes and porky bits that intensified them even further.   Similarly, Rice had no lack of heft.  This might be the densest, stickiest rendition of sticky rice ever, rich with duck fat and chinese sausage, slippery, big leaves of kale making a valiant but somewhat futile attempt to keep things from going over the edge.  But the springy cushion of chewy rice will pillow that fall, safely and deliciously.

The only option for dessert, not printed on any menu, was described by our server as some sort of beignet, served with some d.i.y. sauces that you can apply to taste.  These seemed a bit heavy to follow the substantial meal we had just consumed, so instead we ducked out for cocktails at Death & Co.  Because even though Tuome is worth a visit in its own right, when you're in Alphabet City (coming from most of wherever) you might as well hit two excellent birds with one stone.




tuome

536 east 5th street (between avenue a & b) new york, ny 10009







Tuesday, February 3, 2015

DAVID BURKE FABRICK

I still haven't resolved whether David Burke is ACTUALLY a part of this restaurant anymore.  A trusted source at Eater.com insists he has pulled an Elvis, but his name remains prominently on all signage and webbage.  Now, I didn't expect him himself to be slinging hash on a blustery weeknight, necessarily, anyways, so it didn't surprise me to see a foreign toque helming the kitchen.  Executive Chef Adin Langille seemed to be confidently holding down the fort, so at any rate, it's in good hands of A chef, whether it's necessarily Burke at all any more remains a mystery.

Regardless, he made his imprint whether he's stuck around or not.  As it's a hotel restaurant, you make do with some immutable fundamentals, but the primary, graphic design smacks of typical Burke.  Industrial and striking, enameled red metal, shiny fixtures and dark exposed brick stand out, especially from our cozy vantage point nestled into a nook with prime view of the open kitchen.  It's a pretty bustling joint, a bit unfortunately from the busy hotel reception area, but the lively bar and full tables are energetic in a good way.

We were running pre-theatre, so we skipped out on apps., but the menu isn't really broken down into such delineations, anyways.  Things are grouped by the prominent feature into categories such as Mostly Veg, Fish and Meat.  So you could approach that in a few different ways, and there are frankly quite a few attractive options in every category.   At any rate, my scallops had an abundant rainbow beets and carrots- enough to practically qualify as a  salad, plus four plump scallops, seared to a nice crusty bronze.    They were zipped up with a bitey hit of fresh horseradish, countering the intense natural sweetness of the roots, making for a tasty pairing.  Angry Tacos gives you an options of octopus or rock shrimp as your protein, or you can choose both, which seems the obvious preference.  I'm not sure why the tacos were angry: they seemed perfectly content to me.  And not too spicy, which might have
accounted for the nomenclature, not even after generous dousings of the pico di gallo and chipotle aioli, although they had a nicely seasoned kick to them.    To make up for the absence of a first course, we took two sides, which given the menu format I'm not sure why they weren't syphoned into their proper categories like the rest of the dishes, as their $9 each price tag would easily elucidate their position.  Brussels sprouts were roasted tender (and I mean tender!) whereas I do like my vegs properly cooked behind that toothsome al dente, prime-nutrient retention stage, but these might've been just a smidge too soft.  But they were tasty, teamed up with tender chunks of apple for a novel touch.  Sauteed mushrooms were
 even better, significantly oily but really delicious, and a wide assortment of species to keep things interesting.



Food came out so quickly and efficiently that in the end, we would've easily had time for an app-entree-dessert arrangement, but at least we had the opportunity to enjoy a sweet relaxedly.  The sweet itself was less gratifying, but only in that it didn't quite live up to its description as I inferred: a pavlova, to me, has nothing to do with a crisp meringue biscuit topped with a grapefruit-Campari sorbet, planked over a glass of bright grapefruit juice with floating sections.  A refreshing finale, and one of which they are obviously proud (it is featured on their website, and truthfully, it's of striking construction), but it did nothing Pavlova-y for me, blatantly missing the signature crisp-creamy, fruit softness of the original.  But this name was more misleading than Burke's on the marquis.  If he has, in fact, left the building, the menu and philosophy are soundly enough implemented to continue the legacy without him.













At Archer Hotel /47 West 38th Street
(between 5th and 6th Avenues)
Phone: 212-302-3838