NEW YORK, NY
So this is the new restaurant that took over the space of my beloved Del Posto. I had to come in to see if they were going to do it justice as a replacement. To be honest and clear though, it is not a COMPLETE change as it is still Melissa Rodriguez at the helm of the kitchen. I tried to make a reservation via Resy but no dice. I put on a notify which went off but by that time I had other plans. I am a busy person people give me a break. That said, I decided to at least go to the bar for appetizers and drinks just to take in the space in that manner i.e. by the bartenders, cocktails and ambience. To start, I love what they have done with the space. It is sleek, modern with all clean lines to be seen. It reminds me VERY much of the feel of Crown Shy but then again it is the same family so no true surprise there. The bar stools are beautiful and incredibly comfortable. Thick and padded upholstery at its best if you ask me and the most comfortable bar seating that I have had in awhile. As I took in the space with my eyes, I was surprised that there were not many people in the restaurant but I chocked it up to that the night was yet young so I figured that I would hang around a little longer to wait and see what happened as the night progressed.
Confession time… I had already had quite a bit of wine when I walked in to the restaurant so I wanted a change over to cocktails. Since my body has decided to go haywire on me when I drink wine, I have started the pilgrimage into the world of cocktails… and I am surprisingly having quite a fun time with it. So I started with my standard test of a restaurant … a negroni! I found it to be on the sweet side and yet still there was something smooth and silky about it. They had a mezcal negroni on the menu which I planned on trying next considering that the classic was a success. It appears that every restaurant now has a mezcal negroni on the menu… it is essentially the “hottest” cocktail to have on the menu these days. I found the mezcal to be very tense and strong on the nose. There was a deep smokiness on flavor on the palate with a long finish of dark chocolate. This is quite unlike other mezcal Negronis that I have had in the city. I decided that I would have one last cocktail before dinner and I settled on the diamonds are forever. The menu is written in a manner that it makes it seem like it is a combination of vodka and gin but it is actually a choice between the two for the liquor. I can be a greedy little lady sometimes so I asked for both and they obliged. So my thoughts here are that it is ridiculously floral on the nose but not so much that it is offensive. It is actually rather welcoming. It definitely did help that there is a very nice lingering burn at the finish. Like seriously, the burn goes on and on and on with no end… and I most certainly do not want it to end. It was described as a floral martini but there is something deeper that makes you pause and think and process what you are thinking beyond a standard martini. This is a most definitely a win on cocktails.
Since I had such a fabulous time at the bar with the cocktails, I decided to cancel my plans and stay for dinner at the bar instead. I asked for the menu and… sooooooo they do not have dinner by the bar which I was surprised by (UPDATE: now they do). I had to get a table for the tasting menu but it is my understanding that that is in the works to change. I will be sure to come back to try that as my bartender mentioned that they intend of having it be an entirely different and special bar menu. This follows the Le Bernadin pattern of dining which as you all know by now, I am madly and passionately in love with. As I was seated and before I was waited on, I took a look around and I noticed that they had live music with the artists in the semi-second level, elevated section of the restaurant. This was certainly different and something that I have never experienced in a fine dining restaurant. I honestly could not come to a decision on what I felt about that but it was different and special.
So let us get to the good stuff now… the food! One thing I will say is that they are beyond generous on their starters and desserts. It was definitely a lot to remember but I tried my best. So the first started was smoked ricotta and carrot topped with carrot top gremolata, pistachios and mortadella. That is a mouth full to say in the least but it may wow your brain to see that it ended up tasting interestingly like a muted foie gras. It was not in any way lacking in richness but when you consider what it actually was, it was definitely a feat well accomplished. The next item was chickpea flour panelle with mascarpone and caviar. By now you know that I can never say no to caviar. It is me after all who always has to have some in the fridge for a quick snack so this was a sure winner in my book. What I like about this piece is that you have to appreciate it with your eyes before you make motions to put it in your mouth… do not disrespect the dish without first appreciating the artwork on the plate! I particularly loved the block stacked color combination of it. Now even though it was chickpea chef had achieved a flavor of potato instead. Another magical guise of tasting something entirely different from what is on the plate. This was quite a piece not to be missed.
Now I have a lot more notes on the dishes that I tasted and how exquisite they are but fortunately or unfortunately the menu has been changed. I love a restaurant that changes their menu frequently. I was going to tell you about the creamy fattiness of beets if you can imagine that. I was also going to tell you about the radishes that I had that were crispy but had an even crunchier crumble. Now that piece really messed with my mind. Here are a few notes about the rest of the dishes that I tried but you will have to go in and try the new menu on your own as I have not yet… keyword there being yet.
There was a dish whose description was a little more than I could write down but the key ingredient was white asparagus. This dish was very strong on the olive oil and basil. The pesto that it was sitting on was incredibly flavorful and yet still light and delicate. The asparagus was cooked perfectly… tender but still maintained its crispness. The key with the preparation though is that all the flavors are really and truly seeped in to the asparagus. This was magical. The pairing bread had a texture of a croissant but all the flavor of a fresh baked baguette. Only true skill can achieve this… nothing but true skill and experience.
Here is my experience with the agnolotti. It came with pork cheek and it was hand braided!!!! Say less! Chef is very skilled in making you stop THINKING about what you are eating and to just sit back SAVOR and ENJOY what is going on in your mouth. This dish was another classic… balanced on flavors with vibrant tomatoes tempered by fatty pork cheek. Quite the amazing taste to have on the palate. There was also escarole on the plate that is beyond any preparation of the vegetable that I have ever tasted!
The chicken is a Melissa Rodriguez addition but 100% a James Kent flavor. This is pretty much an ode to the chicken at Crown Shy less the spicy sauce. I have no complaints though as it is actually more superior here. You have to leave it to a woman to elevate to the sky always! There was a fruity flavor that it sat on that I could not identify but it was quite a flavor to have on the palate. I will confess that the dish felt a little busy at times but that is because of the many options of consumption that is presented in front of you.
As I was switching to dessert, I was presented with a warm floral towel to wipe down my hands. I found this to be a very nice and welcome touch.
I forget the name of the first dessert but it really was refreshing on the eyes to begin with. On flavor, you have lime, cucumber and cream all of which are epicly balanced. A very great start to the end of the meal. The second dessert was a combination that cannot go wrong… nuts, cake and chocolate. Nothing overwhelms the other which is supreme to say in the least since these are all ingredients that want to be the star of the show. I was so stuffed so I really could not go any further than this dessert… or did I? I did. I kept on going after ten minutes of rest and boy was I glad I did. The dark chocolate tart is not to be missed. You definitely need to eat that even if you think you are going to explode from food. There was also a peach tartufo was to my liking.
All in all this was a very successful outing and I look forward to returning as they expand further.