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This is a hard one to write; I just seem to have been unlucky with this restaurant. Although it's in my neighborhood, various cancelled reservations over the months meant that last night was my first visit. You take some risks with a place this tiny and indeed:

 

1. At least two tables had finished dinner and paid the check, but were selfishly hanging out and chatting, so we were apologetically seated at a drafty table near the door.

 

2. Both dishes I planned to order had run out.

 

3. The noise level was quite unbearable.

 

Still, I find myself thinking I could have a good time here, on a sunny day, if it was half empty. :(

 

A theme we found in the cuisine was the chef's preference for tart, acidic accents. Vinegar, cornichons, capers, lemons - they all made appearances; to me, it was, if anything, a vaguely Middle Eastern touch. My second choice appetizer, lamb's tongue and octopus, was a bad idea. The octopus was slightly tough, the tongue lacking flavor, and both were overwhelmed by a sharply vinegared gremolata. On the other hand, the sweetbreads, crisply breadcrumbed and fried, were terrific, well accompanied by bacon and garnished with capers. Could have eaten two orders.

 

Whole branzino stuffed with fennel was quite acceptable. I ordered braised rabbit legs, in another vinegar sauce, and I really shouldn't order rabbit or tripe in restaurants: they were okay, really okay, but I can honestly cook them better myself. The hit of this course was a side of deep fried chicken livers served over a lentil salad with a tomato vinaigrette (maybe she has shares in a vinegar company). That was delicious - indeed, most of the sides looked good, but as everyone knows I have the appetite of a sparrow.

 

Another hit with the dessert: a quince charlotte with creme anglaise which I couldn't fault. The bitter chocolate pot was very sweet, and we preferred the rough chunks of bitter chocolate which were served with coffee. With generously poured cocktails (a Pisco sour and a mojito) and an inexpensive Bonny Doon rose, we paid $100 a head all in. That seemed about right, but a more expensive wine could easily have pushed it to $130/$140 - which, given I paid $170 at Bouley for a tasting would have seemed to much.

 

There's a good meal to be wrung out of this place somehow.

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This is a hard one to write; I just seem to have been unlucky with this restaurant. Although it's in my neighborhood, various cancelled reservations over the months meant that last night was my first

Thanks, Marty - we did indeed drink the '87 at Tocqueville recently ("A 1987 Viña Tondonia could only enhance the meal; big strawberries on the nose, old silk on the tongue, sherry in a dusty leather

I had similar feelings about it, but following three meals I no longer think it's bad luck. Last time we were there, having recovered from a fishy steak incident reported elsewhere, it was around zero degrees outside (exposing my current Chowhound alias here) and not much warmer at the table we were offered. While the food (sweetbreads, entrecote, poached foie) was good, I found it hard to enjoy while freezing, getting bumped by people standing at the bar and trying to hold conversation over the background noise.

 

There's probably a Monday evening in early September when Prune can be enjoyed quietly and at a reasonable ambient temperature.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Interesting report. Wells starts off with "scrumptious" and "superb", then "I was less enthusiastic about the grilled homemade lamb sausages (they were just a bit too tentatively seasoned), and felt the same about the unusual combination of braised veal tongue, grilled octopus and gremolata".

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What's strange is that Wells mentions: "The oysters were mammoth the coating thick and crunchy". They weren't that large when I sampled then, and the coating was thick and crunchy because panko had been used, from Japanese cuisine.

 

She then notes: "When you go, do save room for the fried dark meat chicken, with that same extraordinary breading, served with a fantastic cold buttermilk dressing." I haven't sampled this dish, but, if it's the same, it's panko too. Why make a big deal out of breading when she couldn't identify it as panko? She is after all a professional food critic. :ph43r:

 

Also, Wells admits she focused on the bar menu. As a professional critic, she ought to have tried to sample some of the "regular menu" items, which are also available at the bar or at the seated tables.

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  • 2 years later...

Years ago I went to Prune, really enjoyed my meal and then it just slipped from my radar. In particular, I remember the monkfish liver appetizer and wanted to see if my memory lived up. It didn't but the rest of the meal did.

 

We started with the monkfish, pasta kerchief with bits of ham, poached egg, bitter greens, little chunks of parmesan, pine nuts and maybe a dressing of butter. I loved this, and looking at the ingredients, how could one not? My favorite dish of the evening.

 

We shared a main of pork with crackling, pickled tomatoes, black eyed peas with chopped cornichon and we think a paprika mayo for pork dipping. The vegetables were very vinegar-y as Wilfrid described in his post, but this is something that I like a lot. For veg matter we ordered a side of roasted beets with aioli.

 

Dessert was a marscapone fig tartlett.

 

When we arrived at 7:30, we pretty much had the place to ourselves but it filled up completely. The doors were thrown open so as to enjoy the lovely evening.

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It was such a beautiful night and Prune had their window/doors open so the usual claustrophobic atmosphere was somewhat alleviated.

 

Yes, that pasta kerchief with egg was lucious. The pork dish's pickled tomatoes were a great match for the pork. I'm a vinegar person for sure so they really made me happy.

 

The fig and mascarpone tartlett was eh but all in all it was a very pleasant meal.

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It's pretty cramped and crammed with young people for the most part, and noisy too. The biggest table would be a six-top, maybe 8 if one reserved the entire length of tables/seats by the window/doors. It wouldn't be all that comfortable for a group of not-twenty-somethings IMO. :D

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Fond memories of taking my mother to Prune for her birthday on a bitter cold night and they could not keep the restaurant temp above 45 degrees. We ate a very good meal in hats and scarves. good times. :D

 

Their burger and fries was quite tasty for lunch, as was the straciatella.

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  • 4 months later...

Since chef Gabrielle served us some tasty, almost candied pork belly at one of the Florida Food and Wine events last week, we thought we'd favor Prune for the first time in quite a while. The teensy table problem remains insoluble. At least I didn't throw any glasses on the floor this time, but I did manage to flip an oily fork onto a freshly cleaned shirt (Paul Stuart soft denim, if you need to know).

 

The menu remains representative of old favorites, and we arranged an extra course of the reliably good roast marrow bones with parsley salad between appetizer and entree. To start, monkfish liver: not the neat, smooth torchon one commonly finds, but a big, raggedy hunk of the liver au naturel, lightly seared and pink in the middle; good, buttery toast for spreading. The sweetbreads, crunchily breaded, deserve their reputation. My Beloved put away a sizeable whole grilled branzino; I ate the lamb shank, served very tender, braised in a cone of thick parchment. Raisins on the vine showed up at various points on the menu; I liked them as a contrasting note in a side of escarole.

 

A good dinner in surroundings which are always going to be cramped. As I've noted in the past, vinegar is a strong note in Prune's cuisine, and that's a slight downside for me - you tend to notice it a bit everywhere. The 1998 Viña Tondonia Reserva, fairly priced at $67, needed time to open and show its characteristic leather and berries. I'd like to have decanted it, but would have needed to balance the decanter on my head or hide it under the table. :)

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The 1998 Viña Tondonia Reserva, fairly priced at $67, needed time to open and show its characteristic leather and berries. I'd like to have decanted it, but would have needed to balance the decanter on my head or hide it under the table.

 

If you liked the 98, try to pick up a bottle of the 87, which is drinking very very well right now and more than fairly priced given the quality and maturity. It's $70 at PJs, but you might want to spring an extra $10 for the more reliable storage conditions at Chambers St.

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