Let’s have lunch like it’s 2011!
That’s the year that Andrew Carmellini opened The Dutch in Soho and it became the hottest joint in town. Casual but hip, the kind of place that is great to impress a date or business colleagues as long as they are true foodies. This chef, straight off his success at Locanda Verde, had the golden touch. You could barely get in the door by 5 pm, let alone any really prime dinner hour. Two years later, it’s not quite as difficult to get a reservation but is the food still as good?
Good but not amazing. A little dry and crumbly, with sweet corny flavor and some smoky heat throughout the bread. A fine way to whet the appetite, but nothing more.
Here is where the culinary fireworks started. Smooth, briny uni is refreshing but sweet at the same time. A slight kick from the pepper builds to a quite tingly heat, tempered by the uni’s creaminess and the firm, tangy pickled mushrooms. Pairing the uni with such earthy flavors is really inspired – it brings a whole other dimension to the food. I loved this dish and would absolutely recommend it.
Hamachi with American caviar, lemon, sorrel, and yogurt
Another winner – The Dutch really knows how to combine ingredients to let each one bolster the other. The buttery fish, the salty caviar, the tangy lemon, and the creamy yogurt make a very memorable dish in a city rife with crudos and sashimi dishes. The caviar is particularly excellent here – it is briny and punchy, and adds a little pop of texture that jazzes up the dish. Add to that the tiny dices of asian pear and croutons and you have a dish that is mild enough for people who are wary of fish but interesting enough for those who (like me!) could eat it all day every day.
An excellent tartare, if not a particularly unique one. The beef is obviously high quality – tender and iron-y with a clean, imerally taste and some pearly streaks of fat. The mustardy dressing is piqant and strong, standing up to the rather sweet radishes and the mild grilled ramps. Served with grilled seedy, grain-y rad, it is tasty and worthwhile, it just isn’t as stand out as the other dishes I had.
Malfatti with Spring peas, bacon, and broccoli rabe pesto
Stop the presses. This is absolutely crave-worthy. The best pasta dish I have had in so long because it is so wonderfully seasonal. The peas are so sweet and grassy. The bacon is more like lardons- crunchy and soft and fatty and salty. The cheese atop is salty an sharp and that pesto…oh that pesto. It’s lightly garlicky and thick with olive oil and bitter enough to make the peas taste even sweeter than they already are. The pasta is really yellow and rich with egg yolks. It’s thick and substantial, with an al dente texture that stands up to the rich pesto. This is a must order dish, and since it’s so seasonal, it may be off the menu soon!
The Dutch is a totally great, destination worthy restaurant. The vibe is still very cool and foodie-friendly, you can wear jeans, and the service is knowledgeable without being abrasive. The price point is high but fair and the food is really unique and tasty – be sure to get a few selections off the raw bar or crudo.
After all this time The Dutch still brings the heat.