T-day at Maloney & Porcelli and Post T-day Dim Sum at Ping
- Jason "Har Gow" Perlow
For all of you who have suffered an overdose of annoying relatives over T-day, I strongly urge all of you every couple of years to eschew the traditional ingestion of the holiday bird with family and to spend a quiet weekend with some close friends. This year's thanksgiving holiday had to be our best in years.
Wednesday we had thanksgiving dinner with two of our best friends, Andy and Lin Kim, at Maloney and Porcelli, which is part of the same restaurant conglomerate as Smith and Wollensky, Wollensky Grill, Cite and Cite Grill. This of course was not our choice, our friends picked the place, and irregardless of the mixed comments about the place here I must say we had a marvellous time. Rachel had the famous crackling pork shank, which was tasty, tender, and it was so much food she couldnt finish it. For apps all four of us had the shrimp and lump crabmeat cocktail, which really hit the spot with two great big jumbos and an nice pile of maryland crab meat in big chunks on the side, accompanied with a spicy cocktail sauce and a mustard/mayo sauce for dipping, similar to what you would find in Florida for eating with stone crab claws, very nice. I had the thick cut prime filet mignon which was perfectly prepared. Our dinner companions had the fish (while nicely prepared kind of a wimpy portion compared to the meat dishes though) and the prime rib, which looked like something Fred Flintstone would eat -- a big mother slab of beef, rare and bloody. Extremely extensive but somewhat overpriced wine menu, but no beaujelais nouveau, so andy and I had two nice glasses of a french Pinot Noir. Girls decided not to get sauced and stuck with the bottled water.
Since it was thanksgiving and it was a set menu the sides were a bit different than what M&P usually serves -- we did have the creamed spinach, which was excellent and extremely creamy and rich (and probably one of the best examples I've ever had) and we had the mashed potatoes (which was mixed with garlic and a very green ex-virgin olive oil) and sweet potatoes, as opposed to the usual home fries. I didnt try the sweet potatoes since I hate them, but Rachel and the others seemed to enjoy them enough.
Dessert was also very good -- I had a warm pear tart, which was a triangular puff pastry thingy filled with pear peices, sitting in a raspberry coolie and topped with a really good maple syrup ice cream. Rachel had the fresh raspberries and blackberries with fresh whipped cream -- interesting because the whipped cream was unsweetened, unlike other places like Peter Luger which serves similar stuff (they call it schlag over there) that is sweetened. Still was great because you could taste the natural flavor of the cream and the sweet and tartiness of the berries really came out. Dinner companions had the blackout chocolate cake, which was great because it wasnt too overpowering and all of us together were actually able to finish it and not feel sick like most heavy chocolate cakes these days you get at expensive restaurants. The signature drunken dougnuts were interesting, but I am not sure I would order them again -- without the accompanying fruit preserves I found them a bit too tough.
The damage? For the four of us went over 3 bills with tax and tip, I think it was like $370 when we were done. Yes, it was expensive, but I have to admit this was one of the best steakhouse dinners I've had in a long, long time. I'd do thanksgiving there again in a heartbeat and I definitely will return the next time I wanna blow someone's expense account in midtown!
On the following day to recover we went to Ping, at 22 Mott street in Chinatown for dim sum. I was surprised it had taken the place of Peking Duck, which had been there for 20 plus years (maybe more?) and had now moved to a smaller space next door. Apparently its owned by the same owners and decided to dedicate the duck eating to a smaller spot so they could concentrate on dim sum and seafood -- actually a pretty smart move I think.
I love dim sum cause its one of the few ways you can have instant gratification when sitting down in a restaurant setting. Before we knew it we had six plates of stuff on the table, I think we went though 20 or so dishes in all. Everything was really good, all the dumplings were excellent, we didnt get that sodium bloat feeling after we were done, apparently the place doesnt use MSG which is nice. We had the usual gai lon vegetable dish which was prepared in a very light oyster sauce with caramelized garlic, and the veggies were tender, stalks were a lot less tougher than other places I've had it, it might have even been baby gai lon. Lin, a native of northern china, had a sharkfin dumpling soup (only 5$) and claimed it was one of the most authentic anywhere, and it was a bargain at that price. Didnt try any but have to take her word on it. Ping is a really respecatable dim sum restaurant and we'll definitely go back.