Desserts & Bakeries
Southern & Soul
Cobble Hill/Carroll Gardens
Lower East Side
Upper East Side
Upper West Side
April 2, 2010
CUISINE: American (New)
NEIGHBORHOOD: Chelsea, Meatpacking District
Who doesn't like party favors?
85 Tenth Avenue at 15th Street
In the first few weeks of his newest restaurant, Colicchio & Sons, Tom Colicchio changed the menu from a la carte to pre fixe and back to a la carte again. The changes were due largely to unhappy responses from patrons — the masses complained and the celebrity chef listened. This democratic cooking is his greatest strength; paying attention to the cues around him, producing what is ultimately an incredibly satisfactory dining experience. Colicchio takes the appreciated aspects of fine dining (an amouse bouche, a goodie bag at the end of the meal, an attentive staff of four for every table) and matches them with a surrounding that better reflects today's general climate. There are no white table cloths. There are cast-iron skillets of food sitting out on the counter of the open kitchen.
The meal starts out with fresh-baked bread. Order wine — you will want to take your time with the food. In his New York Times review, Sam Sifton suggested ordering the 125-dollar tasting menu. Dear Sam, I get it. I really do. Love, Rachel. Colicchio knows how to cook, and here is where he gets to prove it. He combines flavors in ways that both surprise and make sense: for example, the white bean agnolotti is paired with both pork belly, octopus and chorizo, yet still manages to be light, airy, uncomplicated. Tom, (And I'm just going to start calling him that, because I would like to pretend we are friends,) has a way of drawing flavor out of food that surprises: the banana ice cream is so tart and vibrant it shocks your tongue.
The foie gras was as buttery and sublime as should be expected, the himachi is fresh and simple. One diner proclaimed the veal the "best they've ever tasted." The sirloin is rich and decadent, without being greasy. Portion sizes are just big enough to leave a dessert-sized hole in your appetite — a void I am generally more-than-happy to fill. The banana pecan upside down cake is a moist and delicious little ode to caramely banana bread. Pain perdu is served with pine nuts and a rosemary ice-cream I wish I could buy at the corner deli. More desserts were sampled, and there were no misses.
That's not to say the meal is flawless; there are hiccups. The pot au feu chicken, prepared sous vide, is bland: poached chicken breast and vegetables, and (I can't believe I am writing this) the black truffle which initially sold me on the dish was nearly flavorless. Previously, I would have assumed you could add truffle to dirt and it would taste good. Apparently not.
However, I am willing to overlook my failed entree. This restaurant is new, and I would venture to say great. Colicchio & Sons feels less like meatpacking than its neighbors: less bridge-and-tunnel glitz and glam (oxymoron?) and more authentic-NYC. The patrons seemed like real people who like good food, not pin-thin waifs in five-inch Steve Maddens pushing food around their plates.
I'll be back.
Posted in FOOD on April 2, 2010 1:30pm by Rachel Hochhauser | 47 comments
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We are young (early 20's) and hungry (for knowledge! music! art! food!) friends living on (or in areas which border) Manhattan. We moved to the city seeking higher education, and an alternative to frat parties and gin buckets. We prefer a bottle of Chianti to a keg, lunches at City Bakery to a dining hall, Joe's to Starbucks, Frankie's Amatriciana to Batali's. Our uniting factor is our love for food. For detailed, personal information, keep reading.
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