A very happy and loving Valentine’s Day to you and yours! I hope you made some breakfast in bed, have dinner plans someplace special if not at your dining table or at the very least a box of chocolates, flowers and a big fat kiss at the ready. It’s too bad Restaurant Week ended last Friday because it is a great opportunity to meet new people over food and perfect for a date. If nothing else comes to pass that night, at least you will have enjoyed a delicious meal with someone.
Did you take advantage of a $25 lunch or $38 dinner at one or more of the tempting restaurants in the city? I hit a record high of three restaurants this season, starting with something familiar, ending with a second night of greatness and getting happily reacquainted with an oldie but goodie downtown haunt somewhere in the middle.
It was one of the first bitterly cold days this winter, but that didn’t stop my friend Katrina, my sister Heather and I from heading down to Tom Colicchio’s Craftbar (900 Broadway, 212-461-4300, www.craftrestaurantsinc.com) to celebrate my sister’s birthday. I was excited to be in the Colicchio midst again and to taste something new.
It was unanimous that the appetizers were the real stars of the menu. All were devine, but pecorino fonduta with acacia honey, pepperoncini, pine nuts and crostini was the right mix of savory, sweet, salty, spicy and crunchy.
I also took advantage of Restaurant Week for a first date–an early Valentine’s Day, if you will. As is normally the case, the decision of where to go is often left to me. I decided to revisit Indochine (430 Lafayette St., 212-505-5111, www.indochinenyc.com) for a fond little teenage-debauchery-tinged stroll down memory lane. (It was the ’80s!)
The French Vietnamese fine dining space, accessorized with beautiful — though slightly surly — aspiring models, looks exactly the same as it did back in the day, and the food makes me re-sing its praises to the masses. We started, and I began my love affair again, with the fried spring rolls with chicken, vegetables and glass vermicelli. It was served with butter lettuce and pickles to wrap the roll before dipping in the light, sweet and tangy nuac cham sauce. Hit me again and again on that one.
For our entrees, he had steamed catfish marinated in black bean chili paste with sesame, ginger soy broth and bok choy. I had Indochine’s steak frites. The steak was marinated hanger steak and the frites were shoestrings of crunchy taro served with poached daikon and a Vietnamese-style gremolata. I didn’t care that all of that flavor made the dish a tad salty. I ate the whole damn thing and would do it again in a hunger-pang second! Quick shout-out to the side of righteous sticky rice with dried baby shrimp and Vietnamese sausage and the classic French lemon tart that punctuated the meal with a big fat exclamation mark!
I closed my Restaurant Week back at Telepan (See the “Talking SCHOP!” column titled “@SCHOPgirl hearts @billtelepan”) with seven friends in tow. As promised, I returned to honor the @christinebader recommendation. The house-smoked trout with buckwheat-potato blini and black radish sour cream was everything–moist, savory, briny and balanced. The lobster Bolognese and Meyer lemon meringue pie didn’t hurt either. Thank you, chef! It was a pleasure to finally meet you too.
Take stock in what you have while you have it this Valentine’s Day before it’s gone. I know I am, and will look forward to the next New York City Restaurant Week to see what’s cooking and to take full advantage before it too is gone again. As Q-Tip testified, “Joni Mitchell never lies …”
Enjoy, get eating and thanks for reading!
Kysha Harris is a food writer, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service offering weekly and in-home entertaining packages. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Invitations! Email her at kysha@iSCHOP.com, follow her on Twitter @SCHOPgirl or Facebook www.facebook.com/SCHOPnyc or chat with her on Instant Messenger at AskSCHOP, Monday-Friday, 6-8 p.m. For even more recipes, tips and food musings, subscribe to her blog at www.talkingSCHOP.wordpress.com.