Ici - Brooklyn
I went to Ici in Fort Green last night for a Brooklyn restaurant week dinner. It was awful! The food was boring, pretentious and under flavored. I ordered the shrimp to start and what arrived was one small shrimp on a bed of cole slaw. The pork shoulder was slightly tough and the grits completely bland. I had to ask for salt and pepper to make it at all tasy. The chocolate tart was also a dissapointment. The wine recommendation was completely off as well - the wine was cloyingly sweet when we requested a dry white. Although the space if beautiful, the meal was a complete waste of money.
For upscale eating Blue Ribbon in Park Slope is great. I've also heard from other food lovers Applewood and Brooklyn Fish Camp (both Park Slope) are great. I tend to go more 'cheap eats' and love Olive Vine which is BYOB in southern Park Slope, Dumont in Williamsburg has fantastic burgers and mac and cheese. Flatbush Farm is terrific as well.
If you're going to drive to brooklyn - I'd definitely recommend Applewood, Al di la, Tempo, Rosewater, Stone Park, Taro Sushi (although this is not as fancy as the others, or even fancy at all, it has great sushi) and, if you're looking for something casual but with a cool vibe, I recently went to Sheep Station and really liked it.
i went on Saturday with my husband and a good friend, and we felt the opposite about our experience. we all really enjoyed our meals. the place was a bit chaotic, and i thought they could have handled table turnover a bit better -- but those are common foils with a restaurant week.
on Saturday, they no longer had the shrimp/slaw appetizer, and had switched to the arugla salad with fennel -- which disappointed me, as i was looking forward to the shrimp slaw, for which i expected no more than a token shrimp or two...
my husband and i got the salad which was simple but good. the dressing was too salty to my taste, but overall the balance of flavors was good. it also had shavings of parma grando or whatever (don't know my italian cheeses too well, so i'm sure i got that wrong). i thought the salad would have been nicer with some toasted almonds or hazelnuts -- but a salad isn't "right" to me without nuts.
my friend got the soup, which was tasty and more full of flavor than i would expect from a potato soup.
we all wanted the pork shoulder and grits, so we all got them. my portion was, unfortunately, pretty skimpy, as it was 80+% skin/fat/bone. i mean, i like the skin and fat, but it was overwhelming. luckily, my husband and friend each gave me a bite of their meat. i cannot imagine finding those grits boring, but perhaps you don't like grits, or you do not like grits unless they are strongly flavored (cheese, cream, etc.).
i love grits, and Anson Mills grits are so good, that it would be a shame to tart them too heavily with other flavors. these are organic, heirloom grains that are freshly ground. granted, they are not for everyone, and perhaps are not to your taste. no big deal.
overall, we each thought the balance of the braised pork shoulder, grits, broth, and sauteed chard was simple, comforting, and let the flavors shine without over-complication.
i plan on replicating this meal at home, and i should be able to do so -- not because it wasn't good, but because it was simple.
i am actually quite bummed that this isn't a regular menu item, because we would return for it.
and for dessert, my friend got the key lime mouse, which was fine -- but i'm not big on mousse-texture, and wasn't so much in the mood for sweet & tart. the chocolate tart, however, was greatly enjoyed by both myself and my husband. again, for us, it was really well balanced. the crust wasn't a standout (and could probably be improved upon), but the chocolate itself was deep and dark and just-sweet-enough. and the burnt caramel sauce adorning the plate was a great foil. my only change would be to add a sprinkle of fleur de sol to the top, as i love salt and chocolate.
so, the same meal, two opposing perspectives. i doubt if our experience was different, but i suspect our tastes and expectations were.
FWIW, i enjoy a lot of creativity and assertive flavors as well, but sometimes simple, comforting food is as revelatory as an unexpected pairing.
I don't know iCi (note how it is spelled/capitalized) for restaurant week, but IMO in general I find it one of the best restaurants in its class. I'd suggest you try it again.
Dont know about restaurant week, but we find the cooking at ICI to be very good in general. Their wine selections can be quirky but the wines are good.
I had the same underwhelming experience. If you're going to drive to Brooklyn, please check out al di la, Convivium Osteria and Palo Santo before Ici.
i just went to brunch and was pretty disappointed. I realize that brunch in many restaurants is not necessarily the best representation of their cuisine, but here are a few things that i thought were worth mentioning:
the decor was WORN. walls were dirty, bathroom did not look clean and the trash in there was overflowing, there were flies everywhere. the canvas wall hangings were dirty and some torn as were the wall sconces.
i can forgive these things in a less expensive restaurant (except the flies!), but expected more from a relatively new (4.5 years?) and highly regarded establishment.
i was in the mood for some fresh fruit and ordered the mixed fruit side dish.
all i got was a plate full of cantaloupe. it felt really half-assed.
the cheese grits were a little greasy, but tasty enough.
i always wanted to try this place for dinner and really wanted to like them since they support local farms and get some of their produce from added value, but think i'd rather spend my $ at chestnut, al di la, blue ribbon or even the good fork.