Monday, March 23, 2009

This NY Moment: Dinner for No Special Reason at Park Avenue Winter

Now This is Winter
City Guy surprised me by taking me to dinner at Park Avenue Winter on Saturday night. There's nothing like getting dressed up and going to a nice restaurant for no particular reason.When we arrived for our 6:30 reservation, the restaurant was still bathed in the warm light of the setting sun, and I struck by how peaceful and beautiful the space was. AvroKo, the celebrated design firm, responsible for making the restaurant over every season, really captured the best things about winter in their 2009 space, with soft grey fur on the wall, matching fur lined throw pillows on leather banquettes, bare branches in glass vases, gossamer white curtains, snakeskin place mats on wooden tables. These photos taken with my camera do not do the space justice.

Almost Perfect Meal
After taking our drink orders, the server came over with an amuse bouche of a potato fritter topped with a dollop of lemon creme fraiche. Crunchy on the outside, moist and warm on the inside. A great beginning. Then came a bread basket with brioche bun, walnut/raisin, pumpkin loaf and flat bread. The first two were very flavorful; the flat bread too hard.

I started with the cured lemon caesar salad; City Guy with the sweet bay scallops appetizer off the special menu. Both superb. The caesar salad had a tart dressing I really enjoyed; the scallops had been seared and covered in a sweet cream sauce--so soft and delicious, they melted in your mouth.

For my main course, I had the miso glazed lobster with clam chowder beurre blanc. The server brings you the split lobster then pours the beurre blanc over the lobster. You can use the toasted mini-baguette to sop up more of the sauce. It also comes with a small onion and arugula salad. This was by far the highlight of the night. Sweet, salty, tender, delicious.

I would highly recommend the potato latkes--crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, served with two kinds of sauces--one was a rosemary sauce; the other, which was tangier, like a yogurt, was my favorite.

Sorry to say, City Guy's filet mignon over braised short rib was dry and flavorless, the nadir of the meal, if you will. Braised short ribs should be moist and the muscle fibers falling off the fork, but this had a consistency closer to pulled pork. Oh well. Perfection is a rare thing.

For dessert, we had to try the Chocolate cube--a box of hard chocolate filled with chocolate mousse with pieces of what I was told was fruit cake (though I didn't taste the fruit ), served with a side of ancho chill chocolate sorbet (okay, not great). If you're a chocoholic like me, you'll enjoy this sugar high. If not, you might find it too sweet. City Guy wished he had ordered the apple pie in a box.

Over the course of the night, the lights were dimmed, and couples and quads of Upper East siders, many of them over fifty and wearing jackets (which surprised us since the restaurant was recently on Gossip Girl), filled very corner of the dining room. The service was okay--not the best or the worst in town--a bit cold--but it did grow more negligent as the room filled. After our main course, it took our server a very long time before checking with us for our dessert order and later, to bring us our check. As Downtowners, we did feel a little out of place, but sometimes it's fun to be a tourist in your own town.

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