Dear Food Diary:
It seems inevitable at this point that Restaurant
Week Month arrives twice a year. You know how I feel about it, but like I’ve admitted in the article, if friends want to go, I would tag along. Over the years I’ve had mixed experiences. Some were decent and others simply not worth it. Dinner with wine+tax+tip usually comes to $60+ (I wouldn’t call that a steal). I still prefer spending my money and tummy on regular menus. Regardless, here’s my favorite from Winter Restaurant Week 2011:
StalkerBoy, who selected the restaurants and invited me along. Colicchio & Sons stood out amongst the “just ok” experience at Aquavit (not participating this time) and the totally rip-off Socarrat Paella Bar Nolita who aren’t participating this year either. Don’t get me wrong, I love the original Socarrat, but for restaurant week, it was the perfect example of what not to do. Portions were small and choices were limited. The paella had less rice than the usual portion, so it was dry and crunchy all around, not in a good crusty way. Since 2 of the 3 aren’t participating this time around, here’s the best of the 3 and the one that’s participating (in case you’re making reservations):
Colicchio & Sons Tap Room
I met Tom Colicchio at a Q & A back in mid 2010 when Colicchio & Sons first opened. I asked him about his favorite dish at his joint…
I think he said tripe, thinking I would say no… but I happen to LOVE tripe! LOL. Afterwards we had a little chat and being the Top Chef fan that I was, you can imagine my excitement!
Ok, back to Colicchio & Sons…
The space is quite ambitious, yet warm and welcoming.
High, floor to ceiling windows. Airy with a touch of chic elegance. Nothing that makes it stand out per se, but comfortably lit and roomy enough you can actually move and not squeeze between 2 tables… that’s a luxury on this island.
Along the Crate & Barrel-esque table settings, the menu had a fun titles like Eat this… (instead of appetizer), Then this… (for the main). There was a good selection on the list, more than your usual Restaurant Week menus for sure.
Raw Salmon with Celery & Pink Peppercorn was light and bright. The salmon was fresh and fatty. Simple and good. My favorite of the 3 appetizers we had.
Beef Tartare with Smoked Egg Vinaigrette & Capers had a nice smokey aroma. The natural fat of the beef was contrasted by the tart accents. Chips for texture. It was good, but not the kind that makes me want to run back for more.
Charred Pork Sausage with Homemade Turnip-Kraut & Grainy Mustard description wise, it was the most appealing to me, but it didn’t deliver in taste. The turnip-kraut was creative and fun, but the sausage itself was a bit bland.
TC Burger with Drunk Onions, Pecorino & Chips was a juicy winner. Soft, warm and toasted bun, perfectly seasoned beef and that kick from the onions. The strong and salty cheese added to the beefy, nutty flavors. Though having a burger for your $35 meal seems a bit pricy, StalkerBoy really enjoyed it and I thought it was worth it for that extra juicyness.
Confit of Red Wattle Pork with Anson Mills Polenta, Broccoli Rabe & Gremolata was definitely the best bang for your buck and tummy. The pork was off the bone tender with that great chicharron crunch on the skin. Luscious polenta absorbing all the juice from the pork and that bright parsley, garlic and lemon zest aka gremolata on top. Loved the mix of textures and garlic! It was a good portion size, but left me wanting more, even though I was full. I would go back for this if they have it on the menu. This alone is 5 Chubby’s without a doubt.
Milk Chocolate Pudding with Blueberry Ice Cream & Hazelnut Brittle was smooth like gelato. Licked our spoons. They had me at chocolate and hazelnut, but the blueberry ice cream was clearly made with real berries, so extra points for that.
Market Raspberry Tart with Lemon Thyme & Buttermilk Ice Cream was as good as any good fruit tart. Fresh and buttery. It was satisfying in a “lighter”way. Pleasantly ending our meal, but nothing to sing praises about.
Overall, Colicchio and Sons Restaurant Week experience left me wanting to go back for their regular a la carte, so I guess that means a job or in this case, meal well done. Though not everything hit the spot, the food was quite solid, casual and unpretentious. New American with some twists and surprises.
85 10th Avenue