As I blabbered about being excited to go to RedFarm for dinner, the â€œhappeningâ€ new restaurant owned by Chinese food maven, Ed Schoenfeld, I can tell you that the excitement turned into happy eating delirium. The tiny 40-seat restaurant located at 529 Hudson Street (bet. W. 10th and Charles) is darling â€” a kind of farm-to-table environment with long communal table and cozy booths-for-two. Eddie says they turn down at least 500 diners a night (they donâ€™t take reservations) but have found a way of â€œfarmingâ€ people out to local bars and then texting them when a seat is available. I think the system is working! I fell into the arms of fellow-diner chef Todd English (weâ€™ve been friends for years) and hung out at the tiny bar, drinking a yuzu caipirinha, until our table was ready.Â The chef, Joe Ng, is an urban dumpling legend and we ate a few that were other-worldly â€” especially the Black Truffle & Chicken Soup Dumplings that squirt into your bowl, and totally cool green vegetable-chive dumplings. Apparently Chef Eric Ripert and the adorable Bobby Flay also like them since they are frequent RedFarm-ers! Ditto Gael Greene and the rest of NYâ€™s food cognoscenti. But there are lots of nice, normal people, too â€” including a couple who came all the way from Boston just to eat there. And while the kabocha squash & ricotta bruschetta at abckitchen is one of my favorite â€œtapasâ€ in all of New York, I have found another favorite in Eddieâ€™s smoked salmon & eggplant â€œbruschetta.â€ Truly fabulous. As was the crisp-skin chicken with garlic sauce, the okra & Thai eggplant yellow curry with flatbread for dunking, and the wok-sauteed conch with scallops and jumbo shrimp which was a special that night. The fresh fruit plate was a work of art (how do they do this in such a small kitchen?) and would you believe the chocolate pudding was first-rate! The food is â€œnew Chineseâ€ with so much style and grace that you may never order in again.
And my husband took me on a date to Patroon â€” the beautifully, clubby restaurant in midtown (160 East 46th Street), owned by another of New Yorkâ€™s great restaurateurs, Ken Aretsky who used to run the â€œ21 Club.â€ We hadnâ€™t been in years and heard that Patroon was recently spruced up! Itâ€™s fabulous looking (an impressive photography collection graces the walls) and the service is the most professional and affable that weâ€™ve had in a long time. Not a snooty moment, but it was precision-perfect. The very nice chef, Bill Peet, worked at Lutece for years and remains a close friend of chef/legendÂ AndrÃ© Soltner. Itâ€™s â€œtheâ€ place to go for Dover sole (filleted tableside) and steak au poivre, and the oyster pan roast was luscious. The â€œSimply Grilled Fish of the Dayâ€ was perfectly-cooked cod over a tangle of the most delicious â€œroastedâ€ broccoli rabe weâ€™ve ever had. The place is all-class and feels like the â€œnew 21.â€ Good mango sorbet. Be sure to visit their roof-top bar as soon as the weather gets nice. We hear itâ€™s the place to be.
Tastes of the future: Every so often I peruse the events booklet published by the James Beard Foundation as to the â€œgoings-onâ€ at the Beard House (located on West 12th street in NYC) and locations around the county. It provides a snapshot into current â€œchef thinkingâ€ â€” re: new flavors, tastes, combinations, and techniques â€“Â a â€œlook-seeâ€ into what my peers are cooking these days! Hereâ€™s a glimpse of hot new ingredients in the March/April issue:Â rutabaga sauerkraut, bok choy kimchi, squash butter, tongues, black cod, pork cheeks, hake cheeks, toasted cherry leaves, almond milk, pressed palm seeds, goat milk cream cheese, â€œbeetâ€ steak, tomato â€œchicharrones,â€ bellies (pork and lamb), freekeh, rabbits, pigs ears, vadouvan spice, and fresh curry leaves. Coming soon to your plate.
Enjoy your own tastes of the week.