Colicchio and Sons
I posted my review as part of the discussion about whether or not the restaurant deserved 3 stars from the Times. The discussion was then moved from the Manhattan board because there was lots of talk about whether people liked or disliked Sam Sifton.
Here's just the review part:
Ok, we've now been for a small plate meal in the Tap Room, pizza night, and then a full dinner there (though not the tasting menu) a couple nights ago.
Our best experience was our first one at the bar in the tap room. We had the octopus salad, a potato pizza and a their pretzel dessert. There are a couple other small plates in there too but it was a couple weeks ago and I can't remember. The octopus salad was nearly perfect. For me, that's the dish that got me thinking that perhaps this would be the place for simple, very well prepared dishes without paying Craft prices. The potato pizza similarly was satisfying and perfect with one of the dark beers on tap (try to Motor Oil which is really well balanced despite its name!). The pretzel dessert was remarkable and something we would go back for even after eating dinner at home. Much like the popcorn dessert at EMP and the pine nut crostata at Babbo, it's sweetness and saltiness is so well balanced that I wondered why more desserts didn't find a way to incorporate salty little morsels of something.
The pizza night was less impressive. Their ricotta was good but the pizza I felt needed either something a bit acidic or else maybe even some chili flakes on top. It felt bland but again, decent for bar food.
Lastly, we went for our full dinner in the main room. The hamachi appetizer is very good and I think the most complex dish we ate. The beets were unusual with a mild fish I thought but it worked and in a really interesting way. We also had this white bean pasta with octopus which was the least well executed dish of the night. The pasta was thin an might have been cooked a minute too long. Not the end of the world, but we're talking about whether the restaurant deserves the same star rating as Babbo so it's ok to be picky. We then moved on to the venison and the lamb. Both proteins were cooked perfectly and the parsnip accompaniment to the venison was spectacular. The plates are also beautifully composed as others have mentioned. For me, the proteins themselves were elegant but not richly or boldly flavored (if that makes sense). The lamb looked like a textbook photo of a perfect medium rare lamb loin but I'm not sure it needed to be wrapped in fat with an awkward merguez between the meat and the fat. It was tasty to be sure, but not that daring I don't think. The desserts again were amazing. We had donuts with coconut cream as well as a raisin brioche that tasted like French Toast from the Gods. There was also a rosemary ice cream that really blew me away. Dessert has been the high point every time we've been.
Maybe I need to go to Craft as I love when the ingredients are showcased simply. I also love the complex flavors at higher end places like EMP and Le Bernardin but this fell in between. The savory dishes are busy enough so that the ingredients don't shine that strongly but not so complex that you are wowed by the chef's complex and brilliant combinations.
I suggest having some great, simple small plates at the bar and enjoying their beers on tap and desserts.
110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011
155 W. 51st St., New York, NY 10019
I went to C&S for lunch today, and the food was much more consistent than the dinner mentioned above. I split the potato/rosemary/fontina pizza as an appetizer, which may not have reached the levels of Sullivan Street Bakery's potato "pizza," but it was awfully tasting. But the lamb sandwich with eggplant tapenade was superb, and the eggplant tapenade was a wonderful accompaniment. For dessert, we split a classic tarte tatin with frozen Greek yogurt ice cream and a butterscotch pudding. The former was fine, although I was disappointed with the blandness of the ice cream -- I was hoping for a sourer taste and some of the richness of real Greek yogurt. The butterscotch pudding will appeal to any fan of toffee -- it was richer and more decadent than any b.p. I've ever eaten -- it came without whipped cream or any other accoutrements (other than cookies on the side), and didn't need any.
Extra bonus -- the iced tea is excellent. And for those that fear crowds -- the place was half-empty at 1:30 on Tuesday.
Sullivan Street Bakery
533 W 47th St, New York, NY 10036
re: Dave Feldman
Went for lunch today and had a wonderful meal (actually we shared two) and excellent service. Tom was there and graciously came over to the table to chat after I had left a note complimenting our experience. The lamb, burger, bone marrow, onion soup and desserts were all well done. Service was friendly and attentive as well as efficient. This was a well managed place with staff who like their customers. What a pleasure and surpise to have good food, value and a good time. Will definately go back.
Colicchio & Sons
85 10th Ave, New York, NY 10011
I just came back from my first meal at C&S, in the dining room, and it sounds like we liked it about as much as you. There were four of us and we did some sharing, and the two women ordered three appetizers each. I know exactly what you mean about the "elegant but not richly or boldly flavored" proteins, although my friend's cod was better in every respect than my rabbit. Some of our favorite tastes included the fava leaves in the morels appetizer (our waiter told us they have addressed the problems with the grittiness of the morels, and he was right), the roast foie, those doughnuts with coconut cream, and the wonderful caramel ice cream that came with the beignets.
My egg with fresh peas and parmesan cheese desperately needed more salt (the cheese wasn't enough to be sufficient) and pepper would have been in order, too. I'm thinking of how perfect the seasoning was at the original Craft Bar, especially with vegetables, and I felt somehow something has been lost.
But still. Although I'm not much of an ambiance kind of guy, the room was gorgeous, taking full use of the soaring ceilings.
And I am a service kind of guy. Our server, Edward, couldn't have been more charming and warm. I can't remember the last time I've encountered a server in a fine-dining establishment that was older than I am, and I have to commend whoever it was who hired Edward for recognizing how much he could contribute to the restaurant. The sommelier was as interested in helping us with beer as wine selections. From top to bottom, the service was excellent in a Danny Meyer manner, informal and warm, and it made a huge difference in our enjoyment.
Tom Colicchio was there, looking rested and happy. I'm guessing that C&S will improve. I think the cooking has to navigate that area between gutsiness and finesse. I'm planning on trying the tap room soon.