Pleasently surprised at The Screening Room
I went to see something at The Screening Room (Varick and Canal) and we decided to stay for a bite afterwards. I have been wary of this place, the menu seemed 'too' eclectic, the decor 'too' nice, just something pre-packaged about the feel of the place.
1st the cocktails, while beautifuly presented disappointed my Cosmo-drinking friends. I had a cold so I didn't take a sip but it looked a bit pale and they said it tasted weird. I had the Lolita: Absolut Citron, Curacao and fresh Lemonade, served on the rocks in a high-ball glass--excellent! Really fresh lemonade with a halved lemon floating in it, well-balanced liquors.
Then the YUMMY bread basked arrived: rosemary mini-muffin, corn sticks, fluffy rolls and a long twisted roll that was the only one I didn't sample. They were all great though the roll was a bit too fluffy, a la school cafeteria (is the the Parker House Roll that is supposedly making a comeback??).
I ordered the 1/2 portion ($9) of spinach and ricotta ravioli with wild mushrooms and truffle oil in a parmesan broth. I was ready for a lame broth or an absence of tuffle oil but was VERY pleasently surprised: 2 large fresh (home-made) raviolis arrived, filled with fresh ricotta and fresh chopped spinach, laying in a 1/2 inch or more of a brown very aromatic paramesan/truffle oil reduction, tossed over this were many expertly cooked mushrooms (don't know the kind but wild and delicious) and truffles and delicate tangles of fresh spinach, topped off by a 2 inch sq. shaving of Reggiano paramesan. Absolutly delicious and a perfect size to satisfy at 10:15 p.m. (I had had a protein shake at 4:30--Fresh Samantha Vanilla Almond Soy since I knew I wouldn't have dinner) One friend had the only other pasta dish they serve: spirals with roasted tomatos and other veggies in the best garlic/olive oil and ??? ... a steal at $9 the portion was huge (comes in a full size portion for $17). One bite and I was in heaven. I would definitly go back and have a salad and that.
My other friend had the Fruitwood smoked salmon with salmon bacon and apple panacakes... (I think they were apple.) This was a littly skimpy and I didn't try it. There was a stack of 3 or 4 tiny (1 1/2 " diam.?) pancakes with a 2" x 1" slab of salmon bacon (salmon that had been cured like bacon our waiter said) perched on top, next to it were two largish pieces of the smoked salmon that had been smoked with pearwood, apple wood and a third fruit wood, and drizzled with a white mayo-like sauce. Some greens rounded out the plate.
All in all I would definitly go back... It's just a hop skip and jump from SoHo, it was quiet, very low music playing if any, and the staff were realxed and helpful. The chairs and banquettes were very comfy and it wasn't crowded (This was late on a Tuesday). I regret having ignored this place for so long.
Thanks much for the report....I've been hoping to get there for dinner and a movie (combining two of my most fervant interests!) for quite a while. One thing that's turned me off is that their combo (admission plus fixed price) sounds positively stingy. But it sounds like even when ordering from the regular menu, this isn't a real hearty eat (maybe we should all have protein shakes before, too!).
I actually didn't like the sound of that break basket...sounds a bit too Culinary Institute. I hate formulas.
By the way, for those reading along...while it's terrific to read highly detailed meal reports, it's also real useful for all of us to see quick tips ("banana muffins at frank's deli...not the usual mix! Go early, they run out" is a message we all like to see!), so all you "lurkers" out there, please feed us back something!
Soup in Delaware, Fig Newtons in Kennabunkport, WHATEVER! Especially outside of NYC, where we're trying to work up as useful a tip database as we've got for NYC area...
ps--click link below to see screening room's info and menu
re: Jim Leff
One note... the salmon thing was an appetizer.
Re: bread basket... this formulaic kind of thing is precisely why I avoided this place for so long. But I admit I got sucked in... it jst complemented the food and the drinks really well and was fun to explore through while we chatted.
One friend had done the dinner/movie combo and said while it was fun and novel it was a bit weird and a bit noisy (as opposed to a quiet movie theater) and he hasn't been back. That said I have to see for myself :-)
Good point about size of reports... all sizes useful for me at least, wouldn't want my long one to make 'lurkers' feel they had to write a full-length review.
re: Jim Leff
Judith--yeah, I worry that people think they've got to be super-informed and write in great passionate detail and length in order to post here. It's not true.
If you find great chocolate pudding on a lonely highway in North Dakota and only have time to lay an address on us, that information will be forever recorded, and will one day guide some chowhound headed down lonely highways in North Dakota (and make him/her really happy)! As we all agree, it's really painful to have to eat badly when something good may be right around the corner. Post little sticky notes to our boards; let us be the central clipping file! Your quick tips posted here can even remind YOURSELF one day if you forget that chocolate pudding address...your info will be right here, accessible via any computer in the world! The Internet is an amazing thing.
We're all pitching in to build this collection of tips for the greater good of all chowhounds...and while expansive eloquence is appreciated, it's definitely not required.
re: Jim Leff
My experience was not as satisfying...more along the lines you expected, Jim.
I found the food was everything that lots of NY cookie-cutter restaurants do wrong (think along the lines of that strip of restaurants along West broadway above Broome): too slick, lots of endive and goat cheese and salmon and warm lentils and duck breast, not enough to truly enjoy in either quantity or spice. The big ravioli is what too often passes for flair these days, when tiny pelmenyi or, well, so many things would be more interesting or toothsome.
The food was expensive and not worthy of note: I can't even recall what I ate that night, and I *always* remember a meal.
re: christina z
I really should clarify... they were 2 huge ravioli... I cut each one into 4 pieces, each quarter being almost as big as a normal ravioli. The 2 ravioli almost totally covered the bottom of a large shallow bowl. It really wasn't skimpy. And the edges of the ravioli were almost an inch wide... very pretty not to mention yummy. All in all it was big for an appie and moderate for an entree. (Apparently the dinner portion has 4 ravioli)