Resto is a Belgian restaurant located in the Rose Hill section of Manhattan. Spoon came across this restaurant two years ago in an article in New York Magazine. We have been trying to get here, really we have, but something always stopped us.
Knowing we were soon to have a culinary adventure, Spoon sent me a link to Resto. The Deviled Egg on Crispy Pork Toast and Spiced ‘Four Story Hill Farm’ Lamb Ribletss had me sold, not to mention the Frites with SIX dipping sauces.
Walking up the street, Spoon says, ‘I read on !$%^ that the restaurant isn’t so good anymore. It’s changed hands since the review.’ Information that would have been good BEFORE we were standing ourside!
Resto is a lovely little restaurant. French paned glass doors across the front, window full of flowring plants, smallish bar, wooden tables, and the most UNCOMFORTABLE metal chairs upon which you have ever had the misfortune to sit! Looking at the photographs that accompany the article in New York Magazine, one would think they would encounter a much larger, brighter space. Still and all, it is lovely.
We were shown a table, tiny, and in a corner right in the pathway to a bar. We stood at the table, not happy with the size or location, and looked at the menu. The menu had changed, but the website had not been updated!! We are now hemming and hawing. Maybe Houston’s has artichokes. We’re standing looking at the small table and changed menu not wanting to sit down when the hostess came over and indicated that she would be happy to move us to a bigger table. Oh, okay.
So we’ll order two appetizers, if we hate them we’ll go someplace else for entrees and dessert. This plan was foiled by our waitress who told us the kitchen would only take our full order and she would give us a few more minutes. Sigh. I am unhappy. I am going to dislike this place. Spoon is trying to convince me it will be fine. Fine. Fine. Fine. Just order.
As always, unsweetened iced tea. As those of you who follow our adventures know, good iced tea (and the cost or bottomless glass) is extremely important to our overall satisfaction.
Oh, and the bread? The bread is yummy! How could it be anything but, it’s from the Sullivan Street Bakery!
For starters we ordered the Deviled Eggs on Pork Toast and Hen of the Woods Mushrooms with Scallions, Ginger and Bacon. It’s pork times two, how can it be bad? Well, it can’t!
Three perfect little deviled eggs came sitting upon perfect squares of pork toast. The deviled eggs were creamy and not the deviled eggs everyone thinks of that some relative makes for every family picnic. The toasts were fried little pillows filled with pork and scallions.
The Hen of the Woods Mushrooms were so surprising and so delicious that words can nearly not explain. For those who watch Iron Chef, Hen of the Woods mushrooms are the Maitake mushrooms that are often used and adored in the battles and in Japan as a whole. The mushrooms were sauteed, and had a very light sauce of thinly sliced ginger, small cubes of ginger and bits of crispy pork, sprinkled with scallions. All Spoon could manage to say was ‘Boy, this chef knows his way around a pig!’
While we were happily eating our appetizers the manager, James, came over to apologize for the menu on the website being wrong, that he was sorry if we were dispappointed and he had already spoken to the web designer about the mistakes. So maybe it’s not so bad. Their concern with customer satisfaction is terrific so far.
As an aside, I like a place where no one attempts to remove a plate until everyone at the table has finished the course. They win points here as well.
On to entrees. One of the dishes that had been on the website was a pork belly dish. On the menu in the restaurant there was a lamb belly dish. The waitress assured us that lamb belly and pork belly are practically the same. It looked good. Small logs of crispy-ish lamb belly over lentils and yoghurt. Seriously, a miss. Lamb belly is nothing like pork belly, and that was our fault for believing the waitress. The lentils were partially overcooked and partially well cooked (Now how does that happen!?), the yoghurt was good, and a bite of each component was palatable, but lamb belly alone had a very gamey taste.
The other entree ordered was a Short Rib Carbonnade with Apple Conserves over Frites. All I can say about this dish is as Max Bialystock said in The Producers upon seeing Ulla for the first time, ‘Oooh wah weee wah wah wow wowie!’ This was so worth sitting in the obnoxious metal chairs. The short ribs were fall apart tender. The apple conserves were delicious. and the frites at the bottom of the small cast iron pot this dish was served in were soaked in the gravy from the short ribs. Truly a party in your mouth!
Naturally, having read all of the reviews about the Frites in Resto we had to have a side of frites WITH all the sauces! The sauces were mayo, mayo with onion (and unless everyone you are with eats this, don’t!), sweet chili, lime pickle (oh, yuck), lemon with smoked paprika, sriracha (very hot), yogurt, cumin and roasted garlic, gribiche, which is like a tartar sauce and a cocktail sauce. The frites were perfect (tell them to make them well done). The sauces were great.
We tried to figure out a way to run out with the big boards they use to serve the sauces AND the cast iron serving pot from the short ribs, but we were sure we wouldn’t get too far!!
We are happy. We have been fed. All we need is dessert.
Now here is where Resto needs some work. Their dessert menu is truly lacking. We ordered the Liege Waffle with Creme Fraiche and Chocolate Sauce and cookies. Tea for Spoon.
HUGE cup of tea. Water very hot. Loose tea in a tea ball steeping.
The waffle was great. Not sweet. Not thick and doughy. A thin, crispy waffle sprinkled with sugar and two yummy things to dip it in.
The cookies. Oh, save us from the cookies! Two spice cookies, two linzer cookies, two biscotti, two chocolate chip cookies, and one pizzelle type, half dipped in chocoalte. Spice cookies – yum. Cut the pizzelle-type cookie in half – we tried not to spit it out. Damp cardboard with some chocolate. Okay, let’s try the biscotti. Tasteless. Maybe the chocoalte chip won’t be bad. I mean, what can you really do to a chocolate chip cookie? I think the Rangers were sending their used pucks to Resto to pass as chocoalte chip cookies. ‘Nuf said. The linzer cookies were good, but I am a sucker for linzer cookies! We pushed the cookies away. I wanted to cover them with a napkin so we didn’t even have to look at them, but Spoon discouraged me from doing this.
We asked for the check. Once the check came a waitress passing our table – and not our waitress mind you – saw the uneaten cookies and asked if we’d like to take them home! HOME!? With Spoon’s face, she asked if there was a problem. We nicely, but honestly told her the problems we encountered. She took the check and the cookies ($10 for these cookies, BTW!) and left. She came back and agreed that the cookies were gross. They weren’t being stored correctly in the kitchen and how very sorry she was, and she removed the cookies from the menu.
All in all we were very satisfied. The customer service is outstanding. The wait staff is terrific. The place has terrible accoustics! It is SO noisy, couple that with the chairs and it’s nearly maddening. The bathrooms have sliding doors -very cool. It is the only quiet, cool room. There is actually music playing in the restaurant, but it can’t be heard over the din.
Iced tea is in large glasses, $4, and you pay for each one. Considering the size of the glass, not so bad.
The beer menu is extensive, as is the wine list. They even have beer tasting classes. I would go back just to have abeer sampling and more deviled eggs!!
Resto is located at 111 East 29th Street in Manhattan.