Well, I just discovered a new favorite restaurant.
Not everything was perfect. But enough little things came together to make the evening totally ideal.
Marc Forgione is a chef who I have admired on television,and his epyonymous restaurant has long been touted as excellent. The vibe is totally Tribeca – cool, with a hip soundtrack, rustic interior, and casual-elegant decor. Our tattooed server was sassy, knew the menu backwards and forwards, and was totally helpful in assisting us with making our own mini tasting menu entirely of appetizers.
*note – the only real issue I had the whole night was when I noticed the table next to us got a few extra dishes from the chef that we did not receive. They didn’t get the tasting menu, they didn’t seem to know the chef, it just seemed that these dishes were coming out willy nilly. I have been on the receiving end of this and it’s great. But when you are sitting next to the lucky table, looking forlornly at softly scrambled eggs topped with trout roe, you feel a little…uncool. And jealous. But this still wasn’t enough to mar the evening, just a point that I would like to make – it’s just not the greatest feeling.*
The rolls are soft and warm – a little cottony inside for my tastes, but a good vehicle for the butter. Butter of the heavens, that is. Caramelized onions are sweet and savory, making this taste like the world’s best chip dip. Crunchy flakes of sea salt complete the flavor, and as it melts on the bread, it creates the most multi-layered butter experience I have had…maybe ever? This butter alone is worth a trip to the restaurant.
The gougeres were light as air, sprinkled with poppy and sesame seeds, onion, and garlic, before being filled with cream cheese. Warm and melty on the inside, they were the most elegant bagels on the planet. The gelee is soft and very apple-forward, cleansing the palate and preparing you for the meal ahead.
The server said that this has been on the menu since the restaurant’s incarnation, and it’s not hard to see why. Just eat the dish as you are instructed:
First, put the Sichuan button in your mouth. Roll it around, let it’s oils release. You will soon feel a tingling sensation, like a cross between a Sichuan peppercorn and really strong mouthwash. Swallow the button. Then eat the long, soft slice of kampachi on the spoon. Feel the way that the tingling sensations adds a bite and sharpness to the mild fish. Then dig into the main event. the cubes of kampachi, as mild as hamachi with the fattiness of salmon colliding with the rich, buttery avocado in a citrusy sauce. The chips are tasty, but the real winner here is that Sichuan button. It adds an electricity to the dish that makes it totally unique, a standout in a city rife with fish tartares. This is a must order.
I have never had a oyster quite like this. Baked under a thick layer of breadcrumbs, it is extremely mild and only a little salty – the oyster has trouble shining through all the spicy, wheaty, smoky toppings. And yet…that’s okay. Here, the oyster is part of the dish, not the entire dish itself. The smoke from the bbq, the spice of the Sichuan peppercorns, the wonderfully moist topping…they all play a part in this dish. This again highlights Forgione’s creativity and the fact hat he is unafraid to make you look at familiar foods in different ways.
Delightful, if not the most inventive dish of the night. The terrine is soft and rich, spreading easily and melting into meaty butter on the warm, soft, eggy toast. The salts, especially the vanilla salt, are interesting with the foie, highlighting its different flavors, but really…the foie is great on it’s own. Or with the sweet, bright marmalade.
Or(I’ll say it again) alone. Foie is just awesome.
Sorry I can’t remember a better description for this dish. It isn’t my fault. Once I took the first forkful of chewy cavatelli, crispy breadcrumbs, and salty, robust wild boar…I lost my mind. I went totally gaga for this dish. This is just what truly great pasta should be – al dente, rich but not greasy, with a meat that complements the sauce not competes with it. The creamy cheese melts into the crisp breadcrumbs, making a fabulous sauce for the dish. There is a bit of kick here too, reminiscent of spicy italian sausage. This was my favorite dish of the night, and probably of the month. I loved, loved, LOVED this – it isn’t too gamey or too bland or too garlicky. It’s just perfect.
I didn’t even get to take a picture of the banana pecan pie bread pudding – crumbly and sugary and eggy and fabulous. That’s cause we snarfed it down to fast. This whole meal was very snarfable, and though not cheap, totally fairly priced. It’s great for a date night that is hip instead of romantic or a solo meal at the bar.
Marc Forgione is the ideal of what a restaurant should be – not everything needs to be uber high-end, but the entire menu should be interesting, well priced, and most importantly, delicious.