Tom Colicchio – my hero. Beautiful restaurants. Great locations. Fantastic food. Great service. Riverpark is no exception. Well,two exceptions, this place has a GREAT view and participates in Restaurant Week. What a bonus!

Now, it is a little difficult to get here. It isn’t really near the subway or the bus. You can drive there, and for the moment, parking is free if you eat at Riverpark. The view is beautiful and on a clear day you can see up and down the East River.

Riverpark is tucked in an ultramodern office building. You walk through the lobby and through a door and you are just transported to a special place.

The decor in Riverpark is very similar to Colicchio & Sons – dark tables, lots of windows, white plates, big bar area. The host staff is super friendly – and remember repeat customers as if they come in every day.

The Restaurant Week menu had 6 selections each for the appetizer and main course. A little something for everyone. As we sat pouring over the menu, our waiter, Tom, brought us iced tea, bottomless? A basket approaches – we’re always excited by the basket – and tucked inside was Pretzel Bread. Warm, salty, dense, slightly crisp outside – hopefully a sign of things to come.

First came Iberico Pata Negra – literally translated to black hoofed ham. This particular strain of hog is found only in Spain, and has only become available in the U.S. in the last 5 or 6 years. This is a cured ham, not a smoked ham. It melts in your mouth. Very much like prosciutto, just a slightly different flavor. The Jamon was served with triangles of slightly charred, grilled bread – perfect accompaniment.

Our second starter was the Duck Liver Pate, also served with charred toast, and the most wonderful reduced, sticky, yummy cherry – hmmmmm – stuff! Almost like a a cherry preserve that was reduced and most of the liquid sucked reduced out of it. It was perfect with the rich duck pate. There was a little rosemary and salt sprinkled on top of the pate. I know, I know, this is heart attack on a plate, but there’s just a little pate and it is absolutely exquisite.

Spoon had Fettucine with Pork Ragu. Smelled wonderful, tasted even better. Fresh fettucine perfectly cooked with a rich, meaty, deeply flavored pork ragu on top. Sprinkled over the ragu was fried rosemary. Perfect touch and flavor to go with the ragu.

Fork ordered the Fried Chicken Sandwich with pickled vegetables and garlic mayonnaise. Put the words fried chicken in any dish and Fork will eat it, can’t be helped, it’s an addiction. This was a very large plate of deliciousness. Very generous sized chicken breast, crispy crunchy fried to absolute perfection. Sitting on top of the chicken were great pickled vegetables, perfectly crispy and vinegar-y and spicy to boot. THe garlic mayonnaise was really perfect with this, added a kick to the whole sandwich. The only thing that kept this from being knocked out of the park was the roll. It wasn’t bad, it certainly wasn’t good, it was just EH. Served with the sandwich were my downfall in life potato chips. Really, I was only going to eat one, maybe two – HA! Also a lovely salad – to cut some of the richness and give one a modicum of healthiness.

Dessert! Most times very little thought is put into the dessert course in Restaurant Week menus – not so at Riverpark – actually not so at any Tom Colicchio restaurant.

Fork ordered the Beignet served with a kumquat compote and vanilla custard. Soft, pillowy clouds of fried dough. Tender, tender inside, slightly crisp outside, perfect. The kumquat compote was tart and sweet. Lovely on the beignet. THe vanilla custard was fabulous. If the little ramekin had been a little bit bigger Fork and Spoon would have jumped in. It was intoxicating.

Spoon ordered the Apple Crisp with dried cherries, cognac and creme anglaise. Wonderful crispy, buttery, sugary topping. You dive into apples and cherries and warm spices. Pour in a little creme anglaise and you have another winner. Perfect for a chilly winter day.

This was so worth the wait. This was so worth the trek to the edge of Manhattan. This will so be a place we come back to again and again!

Riverpark ~ 450 East 29th Street ~ NYC, NY ~ 212.729.9790
Riverpark on Urbanspoon


5 Napkin Burger

Those of you who follow along with the Cutlery know that our last trip to 5 Napkin Burger was les than stellar. But here we were in Astoria, attending a concert at the Frank Sinatra School, on a dark and stormy night – it was as if fate stepped in, placed 5 Napkin Burger across the street and said, ‘Come, give us another try.’ Like the Lemmings we can all be at times, we took the easy way out and walked across the street to 5 Napkin Burger.

The space is great. Larger than the space on 9th Avenue. Basically the same decor. Far less harried. Far less claustrophobic. Much nicer staff. Now, that could be from Spoon’s becoming a fixture there, or it could be just a more relaxed atmosphere, or just nicer staff. So far so good.

Iced tea bottomless and plentiful. Water glases and iced teas are refilled before the empty glass is set back on the table.

Our waiter came over and presented us with both the regular menu and the Queens Restaurant Week menu. Here is where our dilemma began. Knork wanted only the appetizer from the special menu, Fork wanted only the entree from the special menu, Spoon wanted everything on the special menu. Sigh. The solution turned out to be simple though. Fork ordered the special menu, but Knork had the appetizer. And Knork order the main course from the regular menu and had the dessert from the special menu.

To start, because we were ‘Starvin’ like Marvin’, we ordered the Pork Taquitos. Slow cooked pork, tender as anything, nestled inside crispy little tacos shells. So good. Piled on top of the pork is salsa, lettuce and queso fresco. The only thing that seemed to be lacking in this dish was lime. It needed copious amounts of lime. But a simple request was all it took for the lime to arrive within seconds.

We also ordered a stack of Cornmeal Crusted Onion Rings. Seriously crispy. Almost a cross between a batter and a coating. The corn meal makes them so crunchy.  Fresh onions, but cooked long enough for them to not be raw, and short enough for them to still be crisp. Great dipping sauces.

For a starter, Spoon and Knork both had the Corn and Potato Chowder from the Restaurant Week menu. It looked delicious. It was perfect for the cold, rainy night we had yet to face. The chowder was thick. Nice sized pieces of tender potato, lots of fresh corn. Very fresh, very good. The tiny sprinkling of bacon on the top didn’t hurt either!

Spoon and Fork both had the Short Rib Sliders from the special menu. These sliders were slammin’! They were OMG good. The short ribs were unbelievably moist and tender. On top of the short ribs was a chowchow that was both spicy and sweet. Giving the perfect amount of OOMPH to the short ribs – like they needed any! The House Cured Pickles were amazing, so much so that we asked for more. It couldn’t be helped. They cut the richness of the short ribs and were just so good on their own! Anyone out there in 5 Napkin land who reads this – please, oh please, put these on the menu permanently!

Knork, who always has to be different, ordered the Italian Turkey Burger. Put all of your thoughts about turkey burgers aside. This turkey burger was amazing. Very moist. Smothered in mozzarella cheese and a spicy tomato sauce, this burger was the total pacakge. The burger was served on a sesame egg roll with vinegar peppers on top. The aromas wafting across the table from the burger were stirring food envy in the Spoon and Fork. THe burger was served with a side of fries. Their fries are great too. Thinly cut, very cruspy, could have used a touch of salt, but that isn’t something that’s really a problem.

For dessert, Knork had a Black & White Shake. No picture, it was gone in a flash! But according to Knork it  was thick and perfect.

Spoon and Fork shared the Brownie Sundae that was on the special menu. Gooey caramel, chunks of brownies, vanilla ice cream, nuts. Does anything else really need to be said? We didn’t think so!

What a totally different experience 5 Napkin Burger in Astoria was. We can’t wait to go back again and again! Great service, great staff, great food, great everything!

5 Napkin Burger ~ 35-01 36th Street ~ Astoria, NY ~ 718.433.2727
Five Napkin Burger on Urbanspoon


Iced Tea Spoon called and wanted an Adventure, who was Fork to turn this request down. The problem usually becomes where to go – but not this time. When Iced Tea Spoon called, Fork had been watching an episode of Chef vs. City, and Centrico became the perfect choice.

Centrico is owned by the Myriad group which also owns Nobu, Corton and the Tribeca Grill.  But the best part – Aaron Sanchez is partner and chef at Centrico. Aaron’s cookbook La Comida del Barrio is one of my all time favorite cookbooks.

Now, most of the time when you go to a restaurant with a celebrity chef, you never expect to see them. Isn’t that sad? But as I sat and waited for Iced Tea Spoon there he was – Aaron Sanchez – Fork must admit there has been a little bit of a crush there since the Melting Pot. Hey, some Cutlery like movie or TV stars, or even musicians or authors, Fork likes chefs.

Once Iced Tea Spoon arrived, we were shown to our table. Fork was SO busy oogling Aaron Sanchez that Fork walked right into the back of the host. A little blush, a little admission about having a little crush on his boss, and the next thing we knew there was Aaron Sanchez standing next to our table and talking to US!  Very cool. We spoke about his lovely wife and daughter, and trying to fit so much into a busy day and still be attentive to his pregnant wife. Not easy. We were so stunned it never occurred to us to ask if he would take a photo with us. Next time!

Fork ordered a Frozen Strawberry Caipirinha, which is cachaca (a Brazilian spirit made from sugar cane), strawberry, agave nectar and lime. Fork loves cachaca and caipirinhas – but usually, it’s limes and sugar muddled in a glass, lots of ice and cachaca poured on top. This drink was gross. That being said, it was the ONLY gross thing we tasted.

We ordered a special appetizer sampler which would let us try 5 different appetizers. There were Plantanos Rellenos – platanos, smoky black beans, a tangy crema fresca. Each bite a different flavor combination, but every bite wonderful. There was a Cerviche de Dia – which that day was a scallop cerviche. Wonderfully fresh, slightly spicy, great citrus kick.  There were  Tostadas de Jaiba – lump crab meat, avocado, chipolte-lime aioli, herbs and thin slices of jalapeno. Fork couldn’t eat these, but they looked delicious and Iced Tea Spoon gobbled them up very quickly! Enchilada de Res – braised short ribs tucked inside this enchilada was an absolute treat. The short ribs were fall apart tender. The fifth one, Fork must embarrassingly admit the notebook has gone missing. All we can remember is it was a Tamale and it was really good!

Iced Tea Spoon ordered the Pollo con Mole. ITS was determined to try something totally new and this was a dish never before tried. A very generous portion of pan roasted chicken smothered in mole sanchez. The mole was thick and smokey. Sweet, smokey, slight kick, all in one bite. Fork loves mole and loves the surprised look everyone gets when they realize there is chocolate in it. Served along with the chicken were wild mushrooms, cooked down and earthy, and sitting on top was a dollop of sweet potato puree. It added a sweetness and lightness to the mushrooms. Again, perfect flavor pairings on a plate.

Fork ordered the Birria al Estilo Jalisco. Short ribs. Fork is a sucker for short ribs. These were fall apart tender. These were braised and served in an ancho chile broth. Between the braising with all the chiles and spices and serving it sitting in the broth, there was so much flavor here it was amazing. Served along with the short ribs were fresh, warm corn tortillas.

Fork absolutely had to try the grilled corn with cotija cheese and lime. One of Fork’s favorite things to order in any Mexican restaurant, but Fork and ITS were hesitant about sitting in this lovely restaurant chomping on ears of corn. We asked our waiter if he would ask the kitchen to cut the corn off the cob for us. They were happy to do it and we were happy to eat it! Crisp, tender and with that slight smokiness things get coming off the grill. Sprinkled with cotijo cheese and plenty of fresh lime, this was a total hit.

For dessert, Fork ordered the Pastel de Chocolate Mexicana. Fork’s magic word – chocolate. ITS actually does not like chocolate – and yet we are still friends – so this meant more dessert for Fork. Molten chocolate cake made from mexican chocolate. Mexican chocolate is wonderful and dark and hints of spices like cinnamon throughout. Cut into this little cake and it oozed an immense flavor and scent that could make one’s tines swoon. THe cake is served with corn ice cream – sigh, again with corn ice cream. Corn – ice cream – I don’t think so. But this time the sweetness of the corn really played well with the dark richness of the cake. Drizzled on the plate was a chocolate chile sauce. Totally yum.

Iced Tea Spoon ordered a dessert special for the evening – a Key Lime Tart. Fork is fond of a family recipe for key lime pie and usually no other, but this was very good. tart, sweet, not cloying. The crust was rich and buttery and the perfect thickness for the key lime filling. Fork and ITS were grateful this wasn’t a key lime pie that was lathered in whipped cream – neither of us are big whipped cream fans. Needless to say, there were no desserts left when dinner was done.

This is a really good Mexican restaurant. Yes, it is a little out of the way as far as location goes, but it is so worth having an Adventure here. All in all this was a great dinner. The food is wonderful, the service very attentive, and speaking to Aaron Sanchez was just the mint in our mojito!

Centrico ~ 211West Broadway ~ NYC, NY ~ 212.431.0700
Centrico on Urbanspoon


Another restaurant on our dying to try during Restaurant Week was Charlie Palmer’s midtown restaurant Aureole. Aureole was originally located in a brownstone on 61st Street. It’s location in midtown is bigger with a bar in front and a dining room in back. The front sleek and modern and the back more luxurious and intimate, but still reminiscent of a ‘boys’ club’ with woods and leather with browns and tans.

And, while this was a place on our bucket list – so to speak – now tried, we’re not so sure we’d go back. The food was very good, but not exciting – well, the dessert was, but it doesn’t take much to excite the Fork and Spoon when it comes to desserts!

One of our favorite things about this lunch was seeing Charlie Parker there. It’s so nice when a ‘celebrity’ chef is actually in his restaurant – in che’s whites, mind you – and walking around the restaurant speaking to diners.

Spoon ordered the Pan Roasted Shrimp with a Summer Melons Salsa, Prosciutto, and Baby Arugula. Poor Fork couldn’t try this dish, but from the ooooh-ing and aaah-ing coming from Spoon, we can assume the dish was really good. It certainly looked beautiful. Seemed a rather small portion, 2 shrimp, 2 tiny slivers of prosciutto, and tiny pieces of melon. This was more like an appetizer on a menu for ‘ladies who lunch’ than in a place decorated like a ‘boys’ club’.

Fork ordered the Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho with Diced Avocado and  Croutons. What arrived was a beautifully vibrant red tomato gazpacho, small dots of olive oil floating on top. The soup was fresh tasting and flavorful, the avocados and croutons just brought it to another level, with a little crunch, of course, from the croutons. Really yummy, and Fork is not a big soup fan.

For a main dish, Fork ordered the Flatiron Steak. Sliced steak served over baby bok choy, coconut rice, scallions, and a chile garlic dressing. Sprinkled on top was toasted coconut flakes and microgreens. The steak was cooked perfectly. The slightly bitter baby bok choy gave a nice bite to the buttery steak.  The coconut rice just gave this dish the perfect sweet element. All together a knock out of the park.

Spoon ordered the Pan Roasted Chicken Breast, served over green asparagus, caramelized cipollini onions with a green olive jus. The chicken was surprisingly moist and tender.  The asparagus were still crisp, and were so perfect with the cipollini onions. The sweetness of carmelized cipollini was perfect with the salty bite from the green olive jus.  Such a simple dish, done so well, with so many complex flavors. Just perfect.

For dessert, both Fork and Spoon ordered the Rocky Road Vacherin. It was beautifully plated. It was like a sophisticated and deconstructed rocky road sundae.  There was a chocolate ice cream – which wasn’t really like an ice cream, but more of a mousse that was frozen – tube shaped marshmallows, bites of dense, gooey, rich brownie, a reduced black cherry glaze, and marcona almonds, and a chocolate meringue.  Each element of the dessert was wonderful on its own and together made magic on the plate!

Food, good. Service, so-so. Seeing Charlie Parker, cool. Portions, small. We wanted it, we tried it and the drawer is still out as to whether we would go back.

Aureole ~ One Bryant Park ~ New York, NY ~ 212.319.1660
Aureole on Urbanspoon

The Harrison

Restaurant Week! Restaurant Week! Nothing sends foodies scattering and vying for the best restaurants in NYC faster than the impending promise of Restaurant Week. Done twice a year, Restaurant Week let’s restaurants lure new customers with a 3-course $25 lunch or $35 dinner.  The hope for the restaurants is diners loving the place so much they would come back no matter the cost, and for the diners the chance to dine in restaurants they couldn’t otherwise afford.

There seem to be two categories of restaurant menus during Restaurant Weeks. Ones that go all out to please diners and keep them coming back, and those that are doing Restaurant Week just to do Restaurant Week. Sadly, The Harrison doesn’t seem to put much effort into Restaurant Week.  Was the food good? Yes. Was it spectacular? No. Was the menu interesting? No. Would we go back based on this Restaurant Week menu? Hell no!  Wake up, folks, people will go back to restaurants from Restaurant Week if the menus were great and the food and service was great!

Iced tea? Bottomless, refilled without asking, large glasses and very good.

To start, Spoon ordered the Bibb Lettuce Salad with lime vinaigrette and crumbled queso blanco. It was a salad. Yes, a good salad, but not a special or stellar salad.  If you look at the photo, you’ll agree. – bright, fresh looking, inviting, but nothing to write home about. Bibb lettuce, a smattering of cheese and a drizzle of dressing.

F0rk selected the Crispy Skate Fingers. Aside from the salad the only other starter choice was cucumber soup. Nope. Not gonna happen. The skate fingers were served with a napa cabbage slaw and spicy crème fraiche. This was surprisingly good. Skate looks like a stingray and the flesh looks almost like a fan. The fish is light and flaky. This wasn’t battered dipped, but breaded in cornmeal and fried golden brown. The skate sat on top of a lightly dressed napa cabbage slaw and spicy creme fraiche. Wonderful flavor combinations. Definitely a winning starter.

Main course was slightly more difficult. There just weren’t two dishes to pick. The regular menu has so many great choices, but the restaurant week menu, fish chicken or steak – almost like a bad wedding menu. Fork and Spoon both chose the Grilled Flank Steak, which was served with a grilled corn salad and a red onion jam. The steak was perfectly cooked, well seasoned, slight bark on the outside, and generous portion. The steak sat on top of a grilled corn salad. Fresh, grilled with the right amount of char to give it that slightly nutty corn taste, good flavors in the seasoning, perfect with the steak.  The red onion jam on top was not really jam-ish, but really nice with the steak, adding just a nice bit od sweetness to the dish.

The absolute star of this meal , though, and the only reason to return to The Harrison were the fries, the Duckfat Fries. O M G. THey were crispy, crispy on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside. Fabulously golden brown from the duck fat they are fried in -yes, fried in duck fat! The duck fat gives the fries a totally different flavor and texture. So absolutely yummy. There was a Mayo-ish dipping sauce on the side, but it was really guilding the lily. Only complaint about the fries – MORE, we wanted MORE!

There was no choice for dessert. This wasn’t because there was one outstanding dessert that just couldn’t be missed, but because there was only one choice for dessert. Fork and Spoon both had the Summer Berry Shortcake. Fresh berry compote and fresh whipped cream piled on top of housemade biscuits. The bicuits were tough – perhaps they were over worked or over cooked, but they shouldn’t have been so hard.

The company was wonderful. Fork and Spoon have fun no matter where we are or what the situation. The food at The Harrison was okay. Just okay. Sadly, there was nothing about this meal that would make the cutlery return.

The Harrison ~ 355 Greenwich Street ~ NYC, NY ~ 212.274.9310
Harrison on Urbanspoon

The Modern

You know Fork, Knife and Spoon have a special place in the cutlery drawer for Danny Meyer, and now we have another reason – The Modern. The Modern is located inside the Museum of Modern Art, and as with many of the Meyer restaurants, there are two restaurants in one, the bar room and the main dining room. Fork and Spoon had dinner in the bar room one night during Restaurant Week.

The Modern is sleek and contemporary. The bar room is slightly more cozy. Nice sized tables, seriously comfy chairs – for those of you who are The Odd Couple fans – the chairs were like sitting in a hand. The tables that are next to the bar are very small, very low and look very uncomfortable. While they take walk-ins in the bar room, they usually seat those at the ridiculous tables next to the bar. Call ahead and make a reservation for the bar room. The main dining room is also very nice. Very modern, very sleek, very white, and overlooking the sculpture garden. The cuisine throughout, very Alsatian in influence. In contrast to the plain white and black of the restaurant are some of the most beautiful flower arrangements you have ever seen – bold, bright and colorful.

The tables for two are extremely large and not crammed next to each other. Even with that Fork and Spoon overheard one of the strangest conversations. Two women sat at a table for two next to us. Same table, same view.  Fork faced the back of the room. Spoon faced the front. At the front of the room there is a large freestanding counter. Cutlery (not us, of course), napkins, glasses, tablecloths are stored on the shelves and on top are gigantic flower arrangements. Each one stood at least 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide – causing a virtual flower wall in your view. Directly behind the very full vases that are on top of the counter is an archway to the kitchen. Not a wide archway, mind you, perhaps 5 feet across. But with the density of the flowers, you would be hard pressed to see an archway –  and even harder pressed to know what was through it.  Upon later inspection – or snoopiness – we realized it was the kitchen, gleaming and shiny.

Anyway, these two women started a huge fuss. Neither of them wanted to eat facing the kitchen. Huh? You couldn’t have seen into the kitchen if you tried. Well, the fuss continued. They did NOT want to sit at this table, and neither of them would face the horror of looking into the kitchen. So they insisted the staff moved them. And they did. To a table with the exact same view, only further toward the back of the restaurant. Well, not much further, perhaps 15 feet further. Fork and Spoon are sure they were just angling for a table for 4, as those tables were not in that line of view.

The iced tea is very fresh, bottomless and served in beautiful glasses.

The Restaurant Week menu at The Modern was huge! 11 starters, 10 mains, 7 desserts! In a dining situation where Fork and Spoon usually have to find something to try, we found ourselves having more difficulty deciding what not to try – but we managed.

And, as always, one of the wonderful components of any Danny Meyer restaurant is the staff. The Modern was no exception. Our waiter, Brian, was fantastic. Knowledgable about food and ingredients. What he wasn’t sure about, he was very happy to go into the kitchen and find out. Turns out, Brian is a fellow foodie and spends his free time eating his own adventures at Eat This NY – check it out when you get a chance. Right now he’s on the quest for the perfect pizza!

By the way, the bread was amazing. There were tiny baguettes – maybe four inches long. Terrific, you can have 2 ends, the crusty outside and toothsome inside, and all to yourself. There were also slices of an earthy whole wheat bread. A little odd in the combination department, but oh so yummy.

Our first starter was the Tarte Flambee Alsatian. This was fabulous. Very, very thin crust – not a cracker crust, but an ultra-thin 10″ round bread crust. On top of the crust was creme fraiche, onions and applewood smoked bacon. Each of these ingredients has its own very strong and very independent flavor. Usually you would think of these ingredients with more subtle flavors. Yet, when together on top of the crust they became a wonderful symphony of flavors. Each ingredient complementing the other, but each still retaining their own unique flavor notes. We were also surprised at the size of the appetizer. This was a very generous sized crust and no skimping on any of the ingredients. Seriously good.

Our second starter was Warm Lamb and Goat Cheese Terrine.  Again, two very strong flavors that manage to compliment each other perfectly. The lamb was beautifully tender. The goat cheese, while strong in flavor, was the perfect foil for the lamb. Also in the terrine were toasted pistachios. All so Mediterranean in flavor, all so perfect together. Along with the terrine was a watercress salad, with an amazing dressing. The dressing was watercress, lemon, olive oil, s&p – and I can’t remember, but perhaps if Brian reads this he would ask the chef again for us!

When you sit for a meal like this, you just don’t want the food to stop coming. Each dish a delight. Each perfectly crafted and plated. Each flavor so well thought out and presented.

Our main courses were a little harder to pick. I left the decisions to Spoon. It is so much easier that way. Spoon always picks the right dishes. Fork just sees the ingredients and wants everything!

Our first main dish was Pan Roasted Hangar Steak with Spaetzle and Beluga Beans. This steak was beautiful. Beautifully cooked. Beautifully seasoned. Beautifully tender. The spaetzle was soft and buttery. Smaller than Fork has had before, about the size of a lima bean. The size was perfect to match the Beluga Beans. Beluga Beans are just a type of lentil. The lentils and spaetzle were in a rich broth. On the side was a small salad of watercress and frisee. Strewn on top were fried lentils. Yes, fried lentils! Very interesting. Not in the flavor aspect, but in the texture aspect.

Our second main dish was Duck Confit a l’Orange with Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Fingerling Potatoes. Brian no sooner set this beautiful dish down in front of Fork and Spoon than it was devoured. This goes onto the list of best dishes ever. The duck skin was very crisp, but under the skin was the most wonderful, melt in your mouth duck confit. Under the greenery were roasted potatoes and brussel sprouts. Fork not usually the brussel sprout lover, loved these. The duck sat in a pool of wonderful blood orange sauce. The flavor was so incredible, we just kept eating and eating and eating until it was gone.

We were contemplating asking for another duck for dessert, but our sweet tines got the better of us.

First we had the Coffee Caramel Dome with vanilla icecream and amaretto gelee. First, let’s talk about the gelee. Those tiny cubes are the gelee. Personally, Fork didn’t taste anything resembling an Amaretto flavor. What stuck out was a pure alcohol flavor. It’s amazing how strong the flavor was in that tiny, little cube. Now onto the dessert itself. The dome was panna cotta like in texture. There were two layers – one layer caramel and the other coffee. What a wonderful flavor combination. The presentation was lovely, the dome had great texture and flavor, and as if those factors weren’t enough, the dome was topped with caramel and fleur de sel, and there were two thin sheets of chocolate leaning against either side of the dome. There was also a small bit of the caramel decorating the plate. An added bonus to this lovely dessert was vanilla icecream sitting on chocolate crunchy bits. Not sure if the icecream was necessary. It didn’t really lend anything to the dome, and seemed to be there as filler for the plate. Was it good? Yes. Did we eat it? Naturally. Would we have missed it? Probably not.

Our second dessert was the Hazelnut Dacquoise with Milk Chocolate Chantilly. So many great things going on here. The hazelnut dacquoise is a thin layer of cake, chock full of hazelnuts. Sitting on top of the dacquoise were two thin sheets of gianduja – hazelnut chocolate. On top of those was a quenelle of milk chocolate chantilly – which is really a milk chocolate whipped cream. And, on top of that, another sheet of the gianduja. There were little dollops of the chantilly around the plate each studded with a candied nut. This was so light and delicate, yet so deep and rich in flavor. The perfect ending to a perfect meal.

The Modern was fabulous. Definitely in the top 10 of favorite restaurants! Give it a try, you won’t be sorry.

Danny Meyer, what’s next? Maybe Greek?

The Modern ~ 9 West 53rd Street ~ NYC, NY ~ 212.333.1220
The Modern on Urbanspoon
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Mesa Grill

Cake Server had been dying to try Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill, and while Fork has been on this adventure before, how could Fork possibly say no – especially during Restaurant Week. Fork had actually been to Mesa Grill with Spoon during Restaurant Week two years ago and – get ready for this – we had nearly the exact same menu. Fork can’t possibly imagine that Bobby Flay lacks the imagination to change the Restaurant Week Menu! Was everything still terrific? Yes – especially the company!

Cake Server arrived a few minutes before Fork and Mesa does not seat people until their entire party arrive.  With a table for 2, it’s sort of silly, don’t you think? If, let’s say, Cake Server didn’t show, Fork would still eat. Would they not seat Fork alone?

But let’s move forward! The bread basket is great. There were corn muffins that were half yellow and half blue, cornmeal and rosemary biscuits, and sourdough rolls of some sort. The yellow and blue muffins were mighty tasty.

Fork ordered Sophie’s Chopped Salad as a starter. This is exactly what I had last time, and I thought the same thing about it this time. Terrific. Chopped romaine lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, cubes of cheese, beans, pieces of blue and yellow fried corn tortillas. The salad was lightly dressed, but sadly the dressing was a little bland. The salad is fairly large and the combination of ingredients make the salad really good and interesting. Every forkful a different flavor combination.

Cake Server ordered the Roasted Cauliflower and Green Chile Soup. What arrived was a thick soup, rich with the flavor of roasted cauliflower. Fork didn’t taste much form the green chiles, but the soup was quite good. There was an orange oil floating on top of the soup, it had a very slight kick to it and added a nice layer of flavor. Floating in the center of the soup was a blue corn taquito filled with goat cheese.  The soup tasted really goo, but it was really an off-putting color.

For entrees, Fork had the Pan Roasted Chicken with blackberry ancho sauce and cilantro pesto mashed potatoes. Eh. The chicken was a little dry. The sauce was nice, but really not enough of it. The ‘mashed’ potatoes were more like a warm potato salad than real mashed potatoes. They were pretty good, but really nothing to write home about. Fork is not quite sure where the cilantro pesto was, but there was not much of a hint of it. Fork is 90% sure this is what was ordered on the last trip!

Cake Server ordered the Cornmeal Crusted Chile Relleno. Another dish that was definitely on the last Restaurant Week menu. Fork must say, the presentation was beautiful. The pepper was stuffed with roasted eggplant and manchego cheese. The pepper had a really nice cornmeal crust, golden and crispy. Surprisingly, the pepper held it’s shape after the frying. Very nice flavors. Nice a savory, especially on a cold winter night.

Two desserts? How easy was that? Simply had to have one of each.

There was a Chocolate Peanut Butter Flan with Kahlua Whipped Cream. The Peanut Butter was so overpowering that there really wasn’t much of a chocolate taste to the dessert. This was pretty good though. It may have been the candied peanuts that were served with the flan that sold it.

The second was Pineapple Buttermilk Upside Down Cake. The best part of this was the pineapple vanilla icecream on the side. You couldn’t at first taste tell what the wonderful flavor was of the icecream, but suddenly it hit you and it was lovely. The cake itself was good. spongy and not too sweet. The pineapples were another story. They were very sweet, almost too sweet.

Bobby Flay and the Mesa Grill have a wonderful cook book. If you need another book for your collection – and who doesn’t – try the Mesa Grill Cookbook.

This was a nice meal, nothing extraordinary, nothing that stood too far out, definitely not to try again during Restaurant Week. The regular menu actually looks so much better. Perhaps it’s time to rethink the Restaurant Week menu. Isn’t part of the point in being a participating restaurant enticing diners to come back and try the full menu? I don’t know that this menu enticed me to do anything.

Mesa Grill ~ 102 5th Avenue ~ NYC, NY ~ 212.807.7400
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