So-So Meals at Esca and Degustation; Knock-it-out-of-the-Park Meal at Nobu57
On our recent trip to NYC, we ate at some favorite oldies and a couple of newbies. The experience was a bit mixed all around.
Esca - very disappointing. We went there for lunch and sat in the section behind the bar. Our food was continually bothered by random knats and flies - I know it's summer there and the windows were opened, BUT it's still gross. We started with the crudo, which was supposed to be their specialty. I am normally a huge fan of crudos because I love raw fish. But the crudos tasted fishy - all three of them. The fish did not taste 100% fresh so the salt, olive oil and preparation did not take the fishy taste away. I then had the spaghetti with lobster - the sauce was like a thick, tomato paste and was so disappointing. I was hoping to find a good Southern Italian restaurant in the States that would be reminiscient of my favorite places in the Amalfi Coast, but I was aiming too high. Would I come back here? No.
Degustation - this restaurant was our big find on the last trip a month ago. This time, it was a bit disappointing overall. For starters, we weren't able to get a table until 10pm for a party of four - even at this time, we weren't seated for another 20-25 minutes. We had such a wonderful meal there last time that we wanted to bring our friends here. The chef (Wesley Genovart) was in the basement prepping for the next week's menu on a Saturday night so we had another chef - is this common in NYC on a Sat night??? We had the 10-course tasting menu, which had looked so inspiring when we were there last but didn't live up to it. I can't remember all 10-courses, but some of the dishes included: Mediterranean prawn w/urchin risotto, bonito crudo, pork belly in tomatillo sauce, lamb, grilled octopus, bread pudding, etc. Everything tasted fine but nothing brilliant - it was like a shadow of its former self in the preparation. The bread pudding was especially disappointing after the last visit when it just melted in your mouth - this time, it was a gooey, stretchy mess that wasn't so tasty. Would I come back here? Probably not.
Nobu57 - amazing! We were regulars at Nobu London on Park Lane so we love this chain, and have eaten at Nobu NY and Matsuhisa a few times. This place was the best of the lot! The yellowtail with jalapeno was to die for, and the tuna & lobster tacos were also really good. The new style sashimi scallop was pretty amazing, too. The anti-cucho tenderloin was very tender, but not as spicy as Nobu London which is how I like it. The ambiance of the restaurant was great - our booth table was great for a 4-top. The place is very pretty from the inside. Would I come back here? Most definitely.
Other restaurants that we ate at on this trip were brunch at Jean-Georges (much better than the Sat night dinner there last time), Vong (a shadow of its former self but appetizers are still great, especially the lobster daikon roll!), Ray's Pizza on Spring St (yummy pizza!).
NYC is still the best!