Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Eat It - Saxon + Parole

on monday nite, i went to a late dinner (not for new yorkers) at the new noho restaurant, saxon + parole, located at the corner of bowery and bleecker. opened in september 2011 by chef, brad farmerie and avroKO hospitality group (both from the restaurant, public), the saxon + parole website describes their menu as grilled domestic meats and aquatic delights. i'd say that's a pretty apt description.

first with the decor and ambiance - i was in love with the space and energy that filled the room. as i noted during dinner, everyone around us was having a great time, laughing and seemingly engaging in great conversation. the music was a great blend of soul and oldies that contributed a great vibe but never got close to drowning out the conversation. it was noticeably a great blend of chatter and music. even our waiter was full of energy and all smiles, which can sometimes border on annoying if you happen to not be in the mood but in this case it didn't bother me at all simply because the atmosphere was a lot of fun. the space and design was very trendy yet warm - they have a bar area as you walk in, with a room in the back and another, more intimate room downstairs.

onto the food - in general, the meal was quite delicious. there are a lot of concoctions on the menu and though we didn't stray too far, there were a few gems. first off were the prince edward island mussels with fire-roasted piquillo peppers, tomato & caper broth. quite simply, they were some of the best mussels i've ever had. the mussels were sublime and all the sauce was a perfect compliment of flavor and texture.

for the main course, i was deciding between the bone-in ny strip or the whole roasted branzino stuffed with parmesan, toasted panko bread crumbs and smoked paprika. i am a big fan of branzino in general, but the waiter did a good job of selling the strip. we also got the fillet and for sides, whole grain mustard mashed potatoes and sautéed edamame/sun-dried tomatoes/feta cheese.

though a tad bit salty for my liking, the steaks were still very very good. i guess that, to some extent, it's sort of hard to mess up a good piece of meat as long as the cut is good. but, i am certainly not an easy person to please and i was happy to say that they were cooked to perfection, tender and flavorful. the bone-marrow béarnaise was good, but their homemade steak sauce was even better, with a great sweet and tangy flavor.

as for the sides, i am not a big fan of mustard so i guess i'm not sure why we went with mustard mashed potatoes. it probably is delicious for those that can stand mustard seeds. the edamame, however, was fantastic even though they failed to mention the presence of cilantro (which i detest). but in this cold side dish, the combination of the edamame, tomatoes and feta cheese essentially nullified even the strong overpowering taste of cilantro. it was a very muted blend that i actually found to be a great contrast to the explosion of flavor found in all the other dishes.

overall, i had a wonderful time which was in large part thanks to my beautiful companion, but regardless i would highly recommend this dining experience to anyone looking for a fun meal.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Don't Eat It - dodici restaurant - long island, new york

since i am the first to contribute 'words' to this site, i am not sure whether there is a structure to follow, but i am sure that i will figure it out as i go.

all i know is that i was asked to contribute and far be it from me to deny such a kind request from my pal, colin, especially when i may just have something to say about a recent dining experience of mine. i can't hold myself out to be any sort of restaurant connoisseur or even a "foodie", if you will, but i do love expressing my opinion, especially if it's a negative one, which, lucky for us, this will be.

last nite, i dined at a restaurant (if you can call it that) named 'dodici', which apparently means twelve. my guess is that they are just compensating and are really are more like a 3, or 4 tops. since it is extremely difficult to find decent restaurants outside of the city (New York City obviously - there's only one city!), i quickly went to nymag.com and searched italian cuisine on long island/hamptons.

well, unfortunately for me, i was nowhere near the hamptons, be it south, bridge, west or even sag harbor. i was, however, near rockville centre where again, unfortunately for me, so was 'dodici'. we arrived at around 7pm (on a thursday) so it was fairly empty. the room was quite spacious so i chose a table in the back (away from the loud, middle-aged, italian gentlemen and their stories about loose women). in hindsight that may have been the wrong move because after taking our drink order (just water) i had to go find my waiter so he could entertain the idea of taking our food order.

oh, did i forget to mention that the restaurant is decorated like a cross between the venetian and ceasar palace hotels? i know this was long island, but i'm talking tacky tacky tacky.

onto the food - we started off with the 'cozze alla fiorentina' or mussels in white wine sauce. the mussels were quite good as was the sauce, but i have a strange feeling it was because they loaded up on the garlic and salt. the sauce was very heavy (at least for a white wine sauce) albeit quite tasty so i won't harp too much. in fact, if it wasn't for the rest of the meal i would have had a better recollection of the mussels. as for the main course, three pasta dishes were ordered, and they included the 'tagliatelle verdi' - 'rigatoni alla buttera' - 'linguine marechiaro'. i had the rigatoni and i must say that it was one of the saltiest dishes i've ever had - it's been 24 hours and my lips are still withered. the sausage was barely edible and halfway through i had to just call it quits. the other two dishes fared no better and both were pushed aside before too long.

what makes a meal a disaster is not always the food itself, although i may be in the minority by saying that. this time, though, the food ruined everything. the discussion at the table turned to the unbelievable levels of salt that must be used at this restaurant and the fact that they seemed oblivious to it to boot.

i am a big fan of having a nice cup of coffee after a good italian meal and perhaps a piece of cake. 'dodici' took that joy away from me. they left me with a taste in my mouth that nothing but time could overcome and for that it will be forever until i return.