Recently in Food and Drink Category
Last night, James and I had dinner with friends at the new Klee Brasserie on Ninth Avenue. It was the first time we had spent dinner with the two of them, and they were up for the adventure of dining at a place that had been open less than a week. It's in the old Magnifico space, but you would be unlikely to recognize it. It has been fully rearranged, with a long bar on one side. I was told that the bar there at the moment isn't the final version.
The chef, Daniel Angerer, is Austrian, but I would describe the food as creative New York comfort food. There are elements of Austrian/Germanic cooking, plus some Italian and other influences. Not much in the way of Asian highlights.
I like the space. It's comfortable, and the tables aren't so close together that they have to pull one table out to seat people. I refuse to eat at places that charge $20+ for entrees and then do that to the customers. The sound level is good, which is another plus in its favor. The place was pretty full, and we could hear each other at a largish table for 4 with no problem.
The wine list is still being worked on, but the one we ordered from had a number of good deals on Austrian wines. We had a Grüner Veltiner and a Blaufränkisch both under $40. There are a number of wines available by the glass or the carafe.
The food was very good, with perhaps a little more excitement in the appetizer course. I have no idea why that is often the case, but I see it a lot when we eat out. Among the group, we had
- Shrimp cocktail with champagne mustard rather than cocktail sauce
- Chicken soup that arrived with the broth in a French press
- Char tartare with lime and golden beet "caviar," and
- Alsatian Tarte Flambée, but was described as "Alsatian thin crust pizza." It was made with crème fraîche, lardons, and Vidalia onions. I'm a big fan of the dish, and it was one of the best versions I have ever had. I think the next time I go, we might split it between a couple of people as an appetizer, as it was decently sized.
For main courses, we had
- Black Hog pork chop with roasted red cabbage, apples, Calvados and mustard relish
- Duckling (Long Island), slow roasted Jersey Plums, quinoa, klee honey (two of us)
- Halibut (Novia Scotia), pine nut crusted, Brussel sprouts, basil and lemongrass broth
All were very good, but I think the (perfectly cooked) duckling was a little under-seasoned. I never ask for salt in a restaurant, but this time I did. I quickly and courteously received a little dish of excellent sea salt.
The service (which was very pleasant) is still working out some kinks, as is to be expected on what I think was the first night with a significant crowd. For dessert, we had a free assortment of excellent little cookies on the house. They were yummy, but I suspect the kitchen might have been a little overwhelmed at that point and was giving out dessert samplers rather than making individual desserts. Given the chef's Austrian background, I expect that will change pretty quickly.
Prices ranged from $8-14 for appetizers and $18-27 for entrees. For comparison, that's around the price range of Red Cat, and slightly more than Trestle on Tenth.
There are rotating specials each day, such as Macaroni and Cheese with Maine lobster and four cheeses on Fridays, and Wiener schnitzel on Saturdays.
I'm very happy to have this in the neighborhood, and expect to visit on a regular basis. I'll probably do an update after they've had some time to settle in, and we've had a chance to try out more of the menu.
200 Ninth Ave. (between 22nd and 23rd)
Switching to more of a personal blog here...
James made an amazing meal for me last night:
The recipe came from the New York Times Magazine, and was accompanied by an interesting article on smoked salmon. Did you know that almost all of the smoked salmon sold on the East Coast, plus some other areas of the US and Puerto Rico, all comes from one place in Greenpoint, Brooklyn?
Yes, I realize I've linked to the New York Times quite a lot in the last 24 hours, especially for someone who regularly criticizes them. James and I increasingly enjoy the arts and feature articles more than the news. I tend to read the news more as a media critic than as a trusting consumer. I find much of the news coverage appalling.
James will probably write about our visit to Queens today to see the rest of Greater New York, plus Sport at Socrates Sculpture Park. The show at Socrates was the most cohesive (and fun) show I've seen there. I particularly enjoyed the work by Type A and Alix Lambert.
I'm writing about the awesome meal we had later, at Mundo Cafe & Restaurant, run by an adorable male couple - one Argentine and one Turkish, with some tasty food from both countries, but primarily from Turkey. It's still BYO, so it's quite the bargain.Some highlights of our dinner:
Carrot dip w/creamy homemade yogurt & garlic served w/warm pita
Pureed red lentil balls w/bulgur, scallion, parsley & spices on a bed of romaine lettuce w/lemon
Fried Argentinean Empanadas filled w/ground beef, raisins, olives & eggs or w/feta cheese
Ottoman DumplingsPasha Mundo
Homemade Turkish dumplings w/ground beef in garlic-yogurt sauce w/melted butter &mint
Semolina & cheese (ewes milk) balls in syrup w/vanilla custard cream
Finally, given the historic animosity between the two countries, I really appreciated seeing a coffee on the dessert menu described as "Turkish/Greek Coffee."
They have WiFi in the jury rooms, for $9/day. I already had my PowerBook set up as a development machine, so I didn't have to have a connection to work on code, but it certainly helps.
It's pretty quiet, as things haven't really started back up for the year. Everyone who started yesterday was released today.
I walked around Chinatown during the lunch break. My favorite thing I saw: gas-powered rice cookers for sale whose boxes said "We're Changing The World!"
I had lunch at Chanoodle. I can't really recommend the soft-shelled crab, but the fried baby silver fish were excellent -- a bit like the little fish in the Italian fritto misto.
Now I'm back in the jury room. What's with all of the people using the desks to sleep on them? Of course they also choose the ones at the ends of the rows, so that one has to climb over them to get to a free one.
The building, 60 Centre Street, is beautiful once you look beyond the metal detectors and bureaucratic detritus. It was built in the teens of the 20th century, and designed by Boston architect Guy Lowell (1870-1927) in a Roman classical style. The handout they had in the jury room says he was inspired by the Pantheon in Rome. There is a magnificent dome painted with a continuous mural showing the evolution of law from the Assyrians, culminating [sic] with the United States. He originally wanted to build it as a round building, but compromised and designed it as a hexagon. Economical considerations (a round building would cost more to construct), plus the fact that the judges were dubious of courtrooms with curved walls, forced the change.
It's the best holiday. It's about food and family -- chosen or biological.
Spicy Kumquat and Cranberry Preserve -- in process
No, of course I'm not cooking. James does all of that!
We started with a glasses of prosecco, then two appetizers: one of oven roasted polipo (octopus) with roasted cherry tomatoes and arugula, and one of house-cured anchovies with beets and artichokes. For our main course, James had bomboletti all'amatriciana (short rigatoni with tomato, onions, red pepper and guanciale), and I had homemade ravioli stuffed with burrata and heirloom tomatoes with a pesto sauce.
We had a bottle of Feudi di San Gregorio Fiano di Avellino with the meal.
The espresso was perfect too.
P.S. I haven't adjusted the timestamp of our blog posts for the fact that we're on the West Coast. I posted this just after midnight, not at 3 AM.
clarklewis is at the left end of the building
We had dinner tonight at a pretty new restaurant here in Portland: clarklewis. I would describe it as creative Italian using local ingredients. Our meal:
"Peasant Salad" - chicory, radicchio, and other greens with balsamic vinegar, house-cured pancetta, walnuts, and grated cheese (Pecorino? not sure)
"Arrabiata" - spicy grilled Monterey Bay calamari with arrugula
[above with Prosecco]
Spelt pasta with house-cured anchovies, fennel pollen and fronds, and red pepper - one of the best pastas I have ever had in my life, including in Italy
[Oregon Pinot Bianco (sorry didn't write down maker) and Arneis from Ponzi]
Roasted Squab with plums, plus wax beans with braised tomatoes
[a Chianti Classico, plus a Barbera, then a red from Calabria and one from Bolzano]
Frozen almond torta with a peach semifreddo-like filling, and strawberry moscato granita (two separate desserts)
I was really dazzled by the food. The atmosphere is a little annoying, with very dim lighting and lots of noise. The food made up for it however.
We had lunch with friends at The Spotted Pig yesterday.
The gnudi (like gnocchi but only made of ricotta) with butter and sage: excellent.
The halibut with chunky puree of peas and sauteed escarole: yummy.
The service: HORRIBLE.
If you want to learn more about gnudi, this Rogers and Gray cookbook (they of River Cafe in London fame) has a whole chapter.