Posted 17 February 2012 - 04:11 AM
so, finally got to eat here tonight. (success! walked in around 6:20, bar completely empty and only a table or two taken but it filled up by 7, for all you potential walk-ins.)
liked the sunchokes a lot; unfortunately, half of them were undercooked. the farmer's egg (light and creamy, cute presentation in a basket over hay) and bread & beer dessert were also highlights. an interesting (in a good way) salad of raw shrimp and bison tartar with bitter greens. the barley and clams, while nice in a creamy risotto kind of way, was a surprisingly sweet dish - i expected more briny flavors*. Also, quite substantial - could easily make a starchy main. And I'm not a fan of food completely covered by foam - i like to see what i'm eating. The chicken and egg was nice - and massive, easily feeds two - but also sort of sweet and creamy and mild. No distinctive flavors, just mild with a soft texture. The arctic char, on the other hand, was too vinegary with too crunchy leeks - here, i was hoping for melty, soft leeks. Sherry vinegar is my favorite kind of vinegar in the world but flavor-wise maybe not as the dominant note. To me the char was inedible but husband liked the fish itself, esp. the well crisped skin.
As mentioned earlier, the dark beer soaked bread dessert was very good. The donuts - ok, nothing wrong with them but not transporting either (the zeppole another diner shared with us at Parm last night were better). an interesting enough bottle of carignan blanc - how often do you see that on a wine list? (BTW, Sneak is right, the by-the-glass selection is a snooze. Also, you get better glassware when ordering a bottle - don't love it when restaurants do that)
it was interesting to try food that's so different from what's being served all over the city right now but it's kind strange when a dessert is the most memorable dish (and i don't have much of a sweet tooth).
the bar staff is very friendly, accommodating and enthusiastic. (although they could drop the "chef and the purity of flavors" spiel.) the bathrooms have their own heaters, which is appreciated this time of the year (but it's a bit of a maze down there and the smells are not pretty). the bathroom wallpaper is great. really. just look at that sketch on the menu. great pottery/tableware, a pleasure to eat off something other than a paper lined plastic basket (the new two-star plating) or the endless procession of oversized white plates. a nice dark rum-rye drink. fun atmosphere, a bit like Gusto or Balthazar when they first opened, down to our neighbor who had eaten at Acme before but couldn't remember what he ate and whether it was good because he was drunk.
overall nice but i think Hospoda might have the edge on the food (and wine**), the flavors sharper and more precise. more exciting when looking for something different. alas, uptown.
*i had a small pasta tasting directly beforehand, which included one with clams so savory and briny, the barley dish totally threw me off
**and cocktails. yeah, Hospoda has cocktails - and very good ones but that's for a different thread
Eat me, it says. Eat me and die. -- Jonathan Gold
Everything is always OK in the end. If it's not OK, then it's not the end.