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May 20, 2009 08:30 AM

John Dory: A Review

Just had a lovely lunch at John Dory yesterday.

The highlights:
--the yummy crab spread that comes with the bread as an amuse is delicious
--the Kampachi with Ginger Appetizer was outstanding. One of my favorite dishes in maybe all of New York City now. It was just 7 small bites of Kampachi, but each piece was really concentrated with the correct amount of sweetness (from a palm sugar sauce/concentrate), crunchiness (from fish skin), and tartness (from the ginger and some citrus).
--the main dish grilled octopus with large white beans was also really delicious. The octopus had the perfect combination of smokiness and char, but still moist from being poached. The tomato based sauce was very light and the beans were a nice complement.
--chips. AKA french fries, served with a side of vinegar. These are not McDonald's stil french fries. Really huge chunky fried potato chips. The outside was crisp (not in comparison to thin fries), but the inside of the chip was really potatoey. Yummy.

Dishes that we also had:
--Fiddleheads, ramps, over grilled bread with fried egg. This was good, almost breakfasty.
--Grilled Sea Bream. Typical grilled piece of fish. I didn't taste it, but it looked fine and no one complained.
--smoked salmon over a potato pancake. This was fine, but not outstanding. I think the texture of the pancake was a bit mushy. It was almost as it was made with a potato flour rather than shredded potatoes.

The lowlight:
--fish stew: My friend had this, and the server said it was served as a bouillabaise, which I usually think of as a chunky stew, but this was completely smooth and had an incredibly salty flavor. I tasted it and I like salty and seafood, but this was actually inedible IMO.

Nice selection of wines by the glass (which we had).

Excellent service with only one misstep when the busboy tried to take away the plate of chips with one chip left (without asking if we were done). Note to busboy: never remove any remaining french fries from a table of ladies without final confirmation!!

The place is pretty small, so don't plan on going with any large groups. The decor is a bit kitschy but cute. Kind of like living in an eclectic house boat with a lot of overloaded aquatic themed decor.

Overall, very nice experience and would go back in a second. (if I had unlimtied time and budget :-)

The John Dory
85 10th Ave, New York, NY 10011

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  1. OMG, John Dory is so good.

    Went there for dinner on Friday night. Sat at the bar. Since the space is so weird and funky (though fun), the bar was no less desirable for two than the tables, given the narrowness and darkness of the space. Hubby preferred the bar so he could watch the food prep, and I liked the fish inset into blue plastic bar surface.

    We had four things and they were all AMAZING. We eat out a lot, upscale, downscale, you name it, and really I would be hard pressed to remember a better meal in a long time. Hubby started with the hiramasa crudo, which was subtle and wonderful, only outdone by the other dishes.The oyster pan roast was incredibly rich and complex, with huge juicy oysters (I took them out and cut them up and put them back in), accompanied by lemony, rich uni on toast. The octopus terrine was also outstanding, both for texture and taste. My chorizo-stuffed squid deserved all the raves it gets--a complex assault of flavours that worked perfectly, with the slightly charred squid offsetting the smoky and spicy chorizo, brightened by some kind of mustardish sauce.

    The meal was NOT light. People dieting should look elsewhere. But people looking for delicious and original seafood dishes should return again and again (as OP said, if time and budget are no barrier).

    My only quibble was with the bread--it was warm and yummy, a salty soft roll and some dark raising bread--but neither type at all went with the seafood. The roll was too soft for sopping and the raisin bread too strong-tasting. But it is a small quibble indeed.