Tempo report 5.3.08
My boyfriend and I have wanted to try Tempo since we walked by it shortly after we moved here in September. Last night we were in the mood to go to dinner and decided to go to Tempo. We were really, really pleased. We made a reservation for eight o'clock at around four in the afternoon, and we were seated as soon as we got there.
The space is modern and clean (which is huge to me, because restaurants in New York, no matter how fancy, never seem clean), but it's still really comfortable. We were there on a date, but there were groups of women, men, and lots of tables full of adult families. Everyone seemed to feel comfortable, which I particularly appreciate, since it's nice to be able to take everyone you know to a restaurant you like, not just your sweetheart.
Our waiter was a little strange, but gave us great service. And the food was excellent. We had lemon meatballs and shrimp salad for starters, both of which had great Mediterranean flavors, and were cooked perfectly. The shrimp, especially, just blew me away. We had rack of lamb and duck breast for main courses. The lamb was tender, beautiful, and easy to eat. I really loved the vegetables that were served with the lamb, which were so young and tender and really felt like spring.
We had saffron pannacotta with candied kumquats, and sticky date and toffee pudding for desserts. Those were awesome, too. It was nice to have saffron so deftly incorporated into something sweet.
We had cocktails with our starters and desserts, which we also liked a lot, even though they all felt like they belonged at a bachelorette party. We had an apple manhattan, a pomegranate margarita, a blood orange cosmopolitan, and a raspberry mojito. They were great cocktails, but it was so funny to be in this place with such sophisticated food, and to have the choice of cosmos and bellinis and things.
I read a ton on these boards about this restaurant, about people being disappointed and people being thrilled. I would count us in the category of those who were thrilled. It wasn't the most amazing place I've ever been, but to have a place of this quality and comfort just four blocks away is fantastic.
I am pretty vocal about Tempo being probably my favorite place in the neighborhood, if not the city. Even with the price increase lately (understandable), the weekday prix fixe is the best deal around. We have always had terrific food and really only once had service issues.
And its nice that they have mixed up the menu a bit lately (it had been the same for at least a year). I absolutely LOVE the new duck breast main. The only problem is, as with the duck pastilla roll, both my wife and I fight over who gets to order it! And can we really do a duck pastilla/duck breast meal? That's a lot of duck!
Tempo's wine list is great and very non-traditional. Definitely look into getting a wine next time.