Saturday, March 8, 2014

I love Restaurant Week!

After taking advantage of a Restaurant Week deal over the summer at Boulud Sud, I jumped at the chance to do it again last week.  Well, jumped at the chance isn't exactly right.  As always, I procrastinated.  I had fourteen chances to eat a delightful meal and only took advantage of it twice.  In the last four days of the week.  Silly.  When it comes around again over the summer, I won't be so lazy...

Last Tuesday, I went with some work chums to Todd English's Ca Va brasserie, which is near the office.  I stopped at Ca Va last summer for a snack on a summer Friday, but I didn't eat in the restaurant, so Ca Va was new to me.  It's a lovely space, very bright and welcoming.  My pictures turned out very well, if I do say so myself.  The service was a bit leisurely and perhaps nonchalant, but it wasn't a big deal.

For my three-course lunch, I chose the pork belly (ok, please, don't tell the vegetarian police.  I have pork maybe once a week now.  And if pork belly is on the prix fixe menu, hello, I get it), the chicken and the sticky banana bread.  All three courses were DELICIOUS.

The pork belly was served with braised red cabbage and a chestnut puree.  It was amazing.  When I had the perfect bite with all three components, it was like magic.  The acidity of the braised cabbage and the earthiness of the chestnut puree perfectly complemented the fatty softness of the pork.  This was just a great dish and it was beautifully presented.

The demi poulet roti, or half roasted chicken, was also quite nice.  I actually saved the entire breast portion for lunch the next day, since the portion was huge.  The chicken was juicy, the skin crispy, and the romesco sauce and cauliflower were salty and yummy.  The marcona almonds were a delicious crispy aspect to the dish.

Dessert, the sticky banana bread, was just amazing.  That banana bread was so sweet and delicious, but yet not sickeningly sweet.  The salted caramel gelato was the perfect counterpoint, and the bourbon toffee just sent everything to the moon.  And the little banana tuile was even outstanding.  It was just a dried banana, crisped up, but it tasted so deeply of banananess, it was great.  Thumbs WAY up for the Restaurant Week lunch at Ca Va.

When I first got the Restaurant Week reminder, I thought the place I needed to go was a Jean-Georges restaurant.  I could never afford to go to one in a regular dining situation, but for Restaurant Week, with a $25 three-course lunch in the offering, I couldn't say no.  So I booked Nougatine at Jean-Georges, his more casual restaurant in the Trump Hotel.  Because it's such a popular spot, the only lunch reservation I could get was for 3pm.  Well, ok then.  No dinner necessary afterwards!  More work pals and I took the plunge Thursday afternoon.

We had to wait a few minutes for our reservation because apparently the ladies at our table were lingering over their meal a little too much.  Oh well.  There could be more seating in the waiting area, I must admit.  But the staff couldn't have been more charming (or attractive - I think people are hired at Nougatine for their physical beauty - oh my).  Once we got to our table, we were quite well-tended to.  The service here was very attentive, yet not intrusive (and handsome). 

I'm a big fan of checking out menus beforehand, so I can get an idea of what I might want to order.  When I saw the menu had a ginger margarita listed, I figured, hey, it's a 3pm lunch.  How bad can it be to have a margarita in the late afternoon?  So I ordered one.  Ooooooooooooooooooooo, it was good.  And strong.  But I highly recommend this margarita, if you like ginger.  Even the salt on the rim had ginger.  For me, it was perfect.

For my first course, I got the Scottish salmon tartare crostini with horseradish and chives.  Jeepers, this was good.  The bread was thick, yet crispy, the salmon was plump with a little fat in it, and the horseradish was the perfect blend of spicy and smooth.  It really was the perfect first course - it perked up my taste buds and made me ready for what was coming next.

I got the roasted chicken for my entree.  It was served with lemon-olive oil potatoes, crispy onion straws, chilies and herbs - the bites of mint with the chicken and potatoes was a surprising (and delicious) treat.  I wouldn't think to pair mint and chicken, but the whole combination was fresh and yummy.  And I'm a sucker for crispy onion straws.  Seriously.  I had thought about saving some for leftovers, but I couldn't.  I had to eat every last bite, that's how good it was.

Dessert was again sublime.  I'm a HUGE lover of gingerbread and this was so good.  Soft and gingery, served on top of not-too-sweet apple butter, and alongside a green apple sorbet that was so tart and refreshing, I wished they were selling it in the lobby outside on the way out.  Just the perfect ending to the meal.  I was pleasantly stuffed, and the tiniest bit tipsy from the margarita.  That's the way to finish out a Thursday, right??  Now I'm just counting the minutes to the Restaurant Week this summer and I'm already thinking about what fabulous place I'd like to try next...

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