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Apr 3, 2012 08:28 AM

Recette - Charming, Delicious, Excellent All-Around

Had an absolutely super dinner at Recette on Sunday night for my BF's birthday. I waffled over the reservation for some time, debating whether or not to go with a "standby"—EMP, wd-50, etc.—but eventually stuck with Recette since it's in our neighborhood. And I'm so, so glad I did!

There were several dishes on the regular menu that we wanted to try, but we wanted to do the tasting too, so our server (Suzy, who had a kick-ass sense of humor and was a joy) told us we were welcome to request dishes we'd like to see as part of our tasting. Perfect. The kitchen flawlessly adapted these dishes in portion sizes appropriate for the tasting. We loved their flexibility and willingness to do so. We received seven courses of some of the best food I've had in the city (plus a few extras courtesy of the kitchen).

After an amuse of hamachi (which I can't remember more details about!), we started with the bigeye tuna, clementine, soy, caviar, bonito, and ice. The citrus was an unexpected burst of flavor over the smooth slice of tuna, which was dressed perfectly not overwhelmed by any other component. A winner to start.

It's also worth mentioning at this point, that the rustic housemade rolls and butter were very good.

The second course was a ramp soup with chorizo, pickled ramps, and olive oil. This was beautifully presented—a bowl with little cubes of chorizo artfully arranged with pickled ramps and a drizzle of olive oil. The bright green ramp soup was poured table side. Another star. By this point, we knew that we were in for something special.

Next up was a delicately roasted scallop with beets, asparagus and a caviar beurre blanc. My BF loves caviar in all its forms, so to have it pop up twice so early in the meal was a real treat to him. It's hard to go wrong with scallops, but this dish was a great representation of the season.

We requested foie gras be added to our menu ($18 supp.) and were treated with one of the biggest piece of seared foie I've been served anywhere. It was layered over a monkfish liver terrine, served with a mushroom glaze, and a chicharron. The monkfish liver terrine was a really unique and unexpected pairing with the foie.

This was followed by a crispy sweetbread, perfectly breaded, with escarole, brown butter, lemon, capers and parsley. The sweetbread's batter had a little bit of spice too it. This dish was simple and let the quality of the sweetbread shine through. Not much to say, other than it was very good!

Our final (or so we thought) savory was a berkshire pork belly, topped with a fried piece of rock shrimp, served with baby turnips, romesco and a sherry caramel. Perfectly portioned and prepared, this was yet another winner. I typically don't care for romesco, but chef's version was amazing.

Our final course was sent out compliments of the kitchen—it was a tender leg of quail stuffed with couscous and served with trumpet royale mushrooms and some spring greens (can't remember what, but they were beautiful and delicate). Another winner in execution, presentation and flavor.

For dessert, we had the s'mores—graham cracker ice cream, toasted marshmallow, and "hot" chocolate ganache. The chocolate ganache was spiced with cayenne, which was unexpected and totally awesome. We also were treated to the chocolate "affogato"—ginger ice cream, feulletine, coffee cake and a warm chocolate "soup".

We didn't drink much because we had a bottle of wine waiting at home, but we loved the blood orange margarita (Hornitos añejo, blood orange, lime juice and espelette) and the jardin d'eden (Hendricks, Cucumber, simple syrup and lemon).

The room is simply decorated, but it is cozy and intimate without being ridiculously loud or cramped. Service was friendly and unpretentious and we thought the pacing throughout was excellent—just when we began to think about our next course, it was there like clockwork. This is a restaurant that is executing at a level comparable to many of the city's bests, and we are so thrilled to have it in our neighborhood! At $100, the 7-course tasting is a steal. (Also, the brunch menu which consists of larger plates, looks to be well worth a return visit.)

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  1. Well-written review, as usual, loratliff. However, I must disagree with your description of the space. Though we got lucky and were seated at a table for two in the corner, I think seating is cramped, especially the tables in the center of the room. When our daughter and son-in-law had dinner there, they were seated at one of those tables and complained of being constantly jostled by servers. As for the noise level, I found it to be quite high. We were there on a Saturday night, so maybe it's quieter on Sundays? All that said, I did think the food was delicious.

    3 Replies
    1. re: RGR

      Quite possible. The dining room was never completely full and we were seated in a corner. I can certainly see how if you were seated in the middle, you might notice traffic from other patrons and servers. Regardless, I'm glad you enjoyed the food—I greatly respect your tastes so I typically think, if RGR enjoyed a place, it must be up to snuff! (I did look at your photos before booking.)

      1. re: loratliff

        Thank you, loratliff! I'm truly flatttered that you consider my opinion when choosing a restaurant. :) .

        I always look forward to your reviews as they are a treat to read, and your photos are stunning. I hopped over to your blog hoping to see some pics of your Recette dinner. Alas, there were none. But I did see your post re: the Rigatoni with Chicken LIvers from Vetri. (When we were in Philly a few years ago, we ate there twice in one week). Your photo had me drooling. I do adore liver, so right after Passover, I'm going to make it.

        A belated "Happy Birthday!" to Ryan.

        1. re: RGR

          I know; I wish we could have taken photos, but it was just so dark! Like I said, we'll go back for brunch soon and I will definitely take some. I'm sure it gets great light.

    2. Nice review loratiff. I love the food at Recette. It appears they added or changed a few dishes. i.e. the soup, the foie gras. The sweet breads and the pork belly sounds the same, and I totally love those dishes. I do agree with RGR ,in that the space is cramped. The noise level is pretty high, but that depends on who is eating there. The place is always packed, but I have never had a reservation, and have always gotten a table without a wait. Also, it is very casual , so going when you are wearing jeans ,is no issue at all.

      1 Reply
      1. re: foodwhisperer

        Yep, we wore jeans and felt completely comfortable. The noise level was high at first, but I noticed they turned the music down about midway through our dinner which would have made it much more pleasurable to anyone sensitive toward that sort of thing. I highly recommend the ramp soup and the foie—well worth a visit!

      2. Great review, Loratliff! You just inspired me to make a reservation. It's been too, too long...

        Re: noise level, it is ear blastingly loud in some parts of the dining room, but I do think it depends in part on where you sit. When I've sat near the windows and towards the back of the room, noise level has been much more manageable. It also, of course, depends on when you dine. Early dinners are sometimes even peaceful.

        BTW, on a separate note, you were right about Joseph Leonard. I like it more and more each time I go and even though I'd like to keep it a low key neighborhood spot, calling it a destination restaurant isn't inappropriate. (There. A double negative concession is the best you'll get. ;)

        Thanks so much for writing up your meal. I really enjoyed the read.

        1. We went there tonight and had a very good meal. The room was pretty loud when we first sat down around 7pm and then became much quieter at the end of our meal, around 8:30pm, as the room emptied out.

          Seating is definitely cramped. We got placed in a two top in the corner, table at an angle, with banquettes on both sides. Basically once you sat down, you were trapped. I didn't mind except for the couple seated right next to us, whose every word I could hear as they grilled the server on many aspects of the menu.

          The food was very good. I was surprised by how much of the fish I could see and taste in the salt cod fritters. The aioli was nice, but didn't seem to mesh with the ragu underneath. The lamb ragu was amazing though, and I sopped it up with the remains of my roll. Quite meaty, flavorful, and rich.

          The bone marrow toast was also delicious and I liked the unexpected pop of the trout roe. So unusual, and a little risky, but I think it worked.

          We also were surprised by the beef carpaccio with burrata, tomato jam, basil seeds, and micro greens. The burrata was kept as a disk, with the beef wrapped around it, like some sort of Italian cheese dumpling, but the wrapper was beef! Very rich but the combination worked very well. I was pleasantly surprised by the chef's creativity.

          The Fresh Cut Spaghetti with sweet shrimp, stewed tomato, chili, sea urchin was also excellent. The shrimp were perfectly cooked. I liked the chewy strands of pasta, the big pieces of uni, and the slightly spicy tomato sauce. Not as creative as the other dishes but still delicious.

          Duck Breast with foie gras & duck leg terrine, swiss chard, mushroom, walnuts was wonderful. Perfectly cooked duck breast with crispy skin, and a duck confit like square next to it, with wonderful dark meat. The crunchy walnuts and savory mushrooms complimented the meat well.

          At this point we were nearly stuffed, but somehow made room for the Smores dessert with a smear delicious toasted marshmallow, graham cracker ice cream, and spicy chocolate ganache. Fascinating, delicious, memorable!

          5 Replies
          1. re: kathryn

            So glad you enjoyed it too, Kathryn. Bone marrow is one of my favorite things and trout roe is one of my boyfriend's, so that sounds like a winner to me.

            It sounds like we were seated at one of the two tops next to yours (along the banquette). Definitely a tight squeeze at that table.

            1. re: kathryn

              oo, you had two of the dishes I'd want to order (the spaghetti and the duck breast). Question: do you get to choose which dishes you want for the chef's tasting menu, or does the chef pick from the regular menu? Doesn't give a specific menu on the website. MIght make a trip there this weekend, thanks!

              1. re: janethepain

                They can tailor the chef's tasting menu to whatever dishes catch your eye on the menu.

                1. re: janethepain

                  last time i ate there, we picked some and the chef surprised with two of his choice.