NEW YORK, NY
Chef Dominick Lee opened Alligator Pear, his first New York restaurant, in July as a love letter to his hometown of New Orleans. So I am a bit late visiting a whole month later. I am trying very hard to get back to my being on the scene while the restaurants are still mint fresh at a couple days old… but I am old and have A LOT more responsibilities of late. No excuses though, I took on this very tough job of visiting restaurants and writing about the best of them so I must fulfill my very tasking job duties. So what did I experience when I got here… the interior is just stunning and beautiful. You are blasted with a landscape of orange and green upon entry. It is not a jarring and gaudy orange but a mellow pale of the color without being too sheer like to a peach color level. The green is also not christmas green but a dark and firm tone that brings chicness and command to the room. Ok I feel like I have spent a few too many sentences talking about two colors but you get the point of how captivating and transformative the space feels.
I will be honest in this case and let you know that I did not study the menu thoroughly before hand which is generally taboo and a no-no for me. BUT it was New Orleans inspired and had beignets so I figured those two facts alone warrant a visit. Looking at the menu, I knew I wanted the charbroiled oysters as I am addicted to those that I had at Acme Oysters when I was in New Orleans. Chef had cheese on his though so I was not too sure how I was going to feel about cheese on charbroiled oysters. I did not want the oyster rockefeller as that is just not a dish I have ever been able to support. That I would order cornbread was a no-brainer … I mean who would ever go to any Southern inspired restaurant and not order cornbread? What I did not expect to see was that they had not one but two types of beignets. I knew that I was definitely going to have confectioner dusted beignets for dessert but I was curious as to what this small plate option was. It was a beignet with crab and sugar? Normally, I would dive heads first into the dishes that I am confused as to how they would ever possibly work but tonight I decided to take a pause. I duly noted that I would save that for the next visit. As is to be expected from me, I ordered a Negroni to drink and it was absolutely solid. They had quite the selection of Sazerac options and I took a note to also explore that on my next visit. Finally for my main, I decided on the jambalaya as I had not had any since my prior visit to New Orleans the year prior.
Starting with the charbroiled oysters. They ask how many you want and as I mentioned, I was a bit hesitant because of the cheese. I asked for six however upon enjoying, I should have ordered twelve. Simple on delivery, they looked and smelled absolutely divine with the upward positive addition that they taste exactly like the best oysters in the world at Acme Oysters. I still have food dream orgasms about those so having a booster shot for those readily available in New York is quite the win for me. To me, what was most mind-blowing about this was the fact that is was the cheese that was bringing everything to life. I would never have expected that combination to work but hey I guess that is why I am not the chef and merely the lowly eater basking in their everlasting genius. I really was not that hungry but I did in fact have all the bread that came along with the dish, sopping up everything that was left on the shell as it was just that amazing a flavor to have.
Now I wholeheartedly admit that my first experience to cornbread came from a box, specifically Jiffy cornbread mix, and I do hold all cornbread to their grand standard. That super grainy texture just cannot be imitated though I do not want to even think about all the non-food chemicals that are in there. In any case, this cornbread was incredibly superior to that, not as good as some that I had in New Orleans but it puts up quite a very good fight. The balance of flavors is absolutely exceptional and I wanted to savor it over a longer period of time so I asked for a box to take it home with me. This was an amazing call by the way, as having that with the accompanying sweet brown butter and my Nespresso the next morning for breakfast was absolutely mind blowing.
For my jambalaya, I got the New York style, not as a homage to home but simply because I was not in the mood for Andouille sausage as was the option for the NOLA style. It was standard and tasty as one might expect. My only wish was for more seafood and for it to be served in a different plate.
It was finally time for my beloved beignets and they came out in a cute little takeout lunch bag. I excitedly opened up the bag and just took in its magical scent in all its glory. I was beyond satisfied with the view of perfectly sugar dusted donuts. I am generally used to more pillow fluffy beignets but these are on the denser side. This is definitely not a deal breaker though as they are perfectly dusted so I was okay to ignore the texture. Overall, these were quite lovely and I will indeed return for more.
So that is it with my visit to Alligator Pear. They will definitely be a regular stop for me when I am craving some amazing NOLA-inspired food so do be sure to make a reservation or better yet ask for a seat by the bar and to be waited on by the fabulous bartender Ernesto. Be sure to roll the ‘R’ in his name… he gets a kick out of it.
Till next time loves, enjoy eating!