Dinner near College and Clinton
Looking for something interesting near College and Clinton for a post-movie meal on Friday night - non-Italian and non-Asian if possible. The old standbys Xacutti and El Bodegon being gone, I'm not sure what is left in that area. Any help appreciated!
Thanks all - we wound up at Olivia's at 53 since it was right around the corner and Utopia was a bit casual for what we wanted.
Olivia's is a completely charming place and I can't believe we had never even noticed it before. The setting is quirky and warm; the owners were there and were excellent hosts. We were told at the outset that it was one of the first nights with their new menu so we weren't sure what to expect (the menu on the website has not been updated but is no longer in play). We also found out that the chef who is listed on the website is no longer there but his sous is now in charge of the kitchen. So, on to the food:
I had the scallop appetizer which consisted of 2 huge perfectly cooked and seasoned scallops on a bed of lentils with a few pieces of fried Cumbre's chorizo. It was simple, tasty and beautifully executed. Spouse had the apple cider and cheese gnocchi with duck confit, which was out of this world. The gnocchi were like clouds and the pieces of confit (healthy portion) went with them beautifully. Both of those appetizers were a bit on the expensive side - around $16 - but we couldn't have asked for better food. Friend had the spinach salad with a variety of other things in it like grape tomatoes and cheese (I'm not doing it justice here - it really looked great) and he pronouced it perfect.
Mains were not quite as successful but still good. 2 of us had the pork chop which was supposed to come with blood oranges but instead came with regular oranges as the blood oranges are now out of season I think. This dish needs a bit of tweaking and the pork chops they are using need to be a bit thicker (or cooked for less time). Ours were a bit tough and dry from being so thin. Orange probably isn't the best match for the porkchops. That being said, it was still a good dish - just didn't have the wow factor of the apps. The other main was the risotto, which needs a bit more work than the chops, it was a mushroom risotto with mascarpone and truffle - a bit heavy on the mascarpone so it tasted a bit too much like the cheese. It also had about a quarter cup of dried cherries in it, which was not a great idea IMO, as they really overwhelmed the truffle and there were way too many of them. So, the mains need a bit of work but by no means were they a total failure. Other mains included a pasta, a beef tenderloin and a fish (there may have been others as well) so the menu is well rounded.
Desserts were fantastic - we had a pear tart with ultrathin crust accompanied by ice cream rolled in chopped fresh mint and a strawberry crepe with strawberry sauce and ice cream (which will only get better once strawberries are actually in season!). We couldn't have asked for better execution on those. There are a few other desserts that looked very interesting as well, including a flourless chili chocolate cake.
Throughout the meal we noticed a real focus on fresh herbs used both for presentation and taste - the kitchen has a great touch with seasoning.
The wine list is small but it has something for everyone. We didn't go to the microwinery downstairs where they make wine from imported grapes - will do that on the next visit.
Service was excellent throughout - very friendly and efficient.
All in all - it was a really nice surprise and a great find in an area with lots of mediocre food. We will definitely return, especially in the summer when their 2 patios (front and back) will be in full swing.