Friday, January 29, 2010

NYC Winter Restaurant Week 2010: Gotham Bar and Grill

When I arrived at Gotham Bar and Grill in the middle of the Village this afternoon, my lunch dates, David and Bobby, had already been seated.  They had shown up relatively early, and though I was admittedly a mere few minutes past the reservation time, I was extremely surprised at the void of excitement upon my arrival at the table.  Bobby, ordinarily a charismatic and strikingly handsome chap, gawked at me like this...

David (his boyfriend and one of my best friends in the world) is known to be a stickler for time, but he always greats me with a hug and a kiss.  Apparently I had already severely soured the experience...

"Sorry I'm a little late, guys... forgive me."

David broke his trance long enough to force a quick smile, before nodding at something behind me with his head.  Bobby expressionlessly whispered, "look...LOOK!!!"

Upon further inspection, I quickly realized the catalyst for their apparent emotional paralysis.  Seated just a few feet away from us was perhaps the ultimate queen of celebrity royalty, Meryl Streep.  Bobby quipped, "I mean, didn't you just love her in She Devil with Roseanne Barr???"

While I will attempt to regale the remainder of our experience, I would be fibbing a wee bit if I pretended that our entire meal wasn't a bit disrupted by watching her every twitch as inconspicuously as possible.  But if her presence at the restaurant isn't endorsement enough, I gather my descriptions would do little to further entice you.

Despite the presence of a giant by our table, the staff made us feel like absolute royalty, as well.  Before being presented our first course from the Restaurant Week prix fixe menu, the manager sent us one of the house specialties...

Yellowfin tuna tartare on a floral spread of Japanese cucumber, erupting with shiso leaf and droplets of sweet miso ginger vinaigrette.  I should momentarily pause to explain that Gotham Bar and Grill is lauded as the epitome of presentation.  The restaurant even has its own curator who oversees the rotating art installations housed in the dining room.  And though the photos and decor were lovely, the meal that unfolded was breathtaking.  The flavors, though crisp and satisfying, honestly paled in some dishes in comparison to the presentation... which illuminated immaculate artistry across the board.

Wild game and foie gras terrine accompanied with baby beets, sicilian pistachios, red ribbon sorrel fennel, and raisin toast.

Warm wild mushroom salad of frisee, crisp bacon, toasted hazelnuts, and a whisper of aged goat cheese sherry vinaigrette.

Roasted beet and mango salad with shaved fennel, sicilian pistachio, feta cheese, and red wine vinaigrette.

The table unanimously agreed that the first course award went to the velvety Bartlett pear and celeriac soup with caramelized quince, diced apple, toasted croutons, and a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar.

The heartiest dish was the grilled hanger steak with baby carrots and crisp fingerling potatoes on a brushing of rich bordelaise sauce (dry red wine, shallots, and bone marrow demi-glace.)

The table's favorite main course was the mezza rigatoni, topped with braised veal shank, tomato concasse, broccoli rabe, fontina cheese, and veal jus.  We all agreed that it was a simply perfect pasta plate.

The fennel pollen pavlova was an absolutely gentle finish to the meal, with orange diplomat cream and tangy poached kumquats.  Pavlova consists of a crispy meringue crust with soft, light center.  Named after the Russian ballet dancer, Anna Pavlova, it was first created to honor her after one of her tours to Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s.

The Gotham chocolate cake with mocha ice cream was one of the richest, moistest desserts I have enjoyed in awhile.

A creamy cylinder of chocolate peanut butter mousse, with dark chocolate caramel and a raspberry lambic sorbet.  Oh. My. Goodness.  Decadent and divine.

And as we finished our cappuccino and spiced hot chocolate, the manager surprised us again with yet one more generosity.  An adorable tasting plate of mini-pastries and tortes.  From Meryl to the artistic culinary mastery to the exemplary service and surroundings, we could not have asked for a better afternoon.  Okay, maybe if Ms. Streep had agreed to pose with us for a photo...

Gotham Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon


Bobby said...

Love the beautiful pics...

Unknown said...

amazing! that food looks divine!! xo

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