Monsoon lover visits Safran
So, I finally made it down to Safran last night. (I'm not a regular on this board so it took me a while to realize that Chef Laura had opened a new restaurant.) Having, literally, mourned the loss of Monsoon, I can't tell you how happy I was to find her again! Her new digs are pretty cool - minimalist space highlighted by the color orange (or safran!), airy dining room and great bar/bartender.
We ordered some of the bartender's drinks and were really pleased with them. I had a sake drink and my fiance had something with one of their infused vodkas. They also have vietnamese beer. We were originally seated next to a rather large and loud party but our lovely waitress came by a few minutes earlier and asked if we'd like to move to a more comfortable spot, which we did and appreciated.
I'm happy to report that a full half of the menu is Monsoon and the other half is new. Their summer rolls are still there, as are several interesting new options. I had the safran roll to start with and my fiance had the lobster ceviche. The roll was excellent and the ceviche was good, though a bit different than expected. When I think of ceviche I think seafood marinated in some sort of citrus. This was more of a lobster salad over greens and a nice vinagrette. It was still quite good, though.
We'd told our waitress that we were big fans of Monsoon and that we were so happy to find chef Laura again (as in when I temporarily moved to Dallas for school, my NYC visit routine included my fiance pre-ordering so that I could have my favorite meal as soon as I got home, and I'd always take an order of their hanoi cellophane noodles with me on my way back), so Chef Laura actually came up to speak with us and to tell us how please she was that we'd found her. She was such a sweet and lovely woman.
For entree we had the vietnamese pork chop and the seafood bouillabaisse. Both were excellent. The pork chop was perfectly complimented by the salad, green beans and new potatoes. It was almost like comfort food, but with a fabulous twist. And the bouillabaisse was soooo good. Light, refreshing, savory. Loved it!
For dessert, Chef Laura sent up complimentary banana cake with a drink that was amazing. The banana cake was sitting in a pool of coconut milk that cut some of the sweetness and came with delish sorbets. The drink (can't remember name - something pearls?) had tapioca and leeche, mango, melon, etc... It tasted like a liquid version of one of those asian gummy candies.
All in all we're thrilled that Chef Laura is back. Would highly recommend this place and I know we'll certainly be back.
Great review. I used to live a block from Safran so ate there (although usually takeout) fairly often. Although there were a few disappointments, there are some great dishes on the menu.
The luc loc beef is some of the best I've ever had. Perfectly cooked, flavorful cubes of beef served with a little salad, green beens/potato salad and taro chips. A creamy herb dipping sauce is served on the side which is delicious. Also, the green papaya salad with beef is fantastic. Shredded green papaya with thins strips of beef, herbs, spices and a little creaminess to cut the spice. Also, if I recall it is only around $8 which is reasonable for such a large serving. The banana dessert was great also.
The dishes we didn't enjoy included some noodle dish with peanut sauce. It was a little gloppy and flavorless.
I hope this place makes it - the staff is super friendly and the quality of the food is very good. It took awhile for them to get a liquor license so their opening was a bit slow.
I am SO, SO, SO happy to find the replacement for Monsoon (for the time being), I came specifically to the Chowhound website to find out what happened to the beloved Monsoon! I will check it out and post soon.
Safran is great, we love it and go all the time with our vegan daughter in college nearby.
Really interesting menu, the rolls are like nowhere else, kinda like vietnamese sushi but with cooked seafood , veggies etc. Their green bean and mushroom salad is superb, all their mushrooms are exotic and their dressings and sauces are light and flavorful.
Their simple fish dish, is huge, steamed, and served on a bed of light noodles , just a little spice, but wonderful. The bun dishes are cheap and I always find myself ordering the chicken on skewerd over noodles with the cucumber salad and fresh mint.
All in all , if you want fresh, reasonable food in NYC, with lots of options for vegans or veg's, go here. It's wonderful and they make a good drink!
88 7th Ave, New York, NY 10011