Chow Time: Winter Restaurant Week, Part 2

So here’s Part 2 of my Restaurant Week Reviews!  I hope you all found my last post helpful so by the time the next Restaurant Week returns you’ll be able to make some pretty good culinary choices.  Before I start on my next set of reviews, I thought I’d offer some more tips for navigating these eateries.

1. Make your reservations in advance!
Especially for some of the more popular restaurants, tables are booked pretty fast.  Opentable.com serves as the go-to website to make all your reservations, and it’s pretty easy to search for tables on specific dates and times.

2. Be conscious of the times the restaurants offer the prix-fixe meals.
Almost all of the restaurants on the list do not offer the Restaurant Week menu on Saturdays.  Some only do weekday lunch, others only weekday dinner.  Keep that in mind when you make your reservations!

3. Check the restaurant’s dress code policy.
A lot of the restaurants that participate are quite fancy, and they expect the attire to match!  Some of them are pretty casual too, so just be sure to check before you dine.

4. Be adventurous!
Restaurant Week is an opportunity for us poor college students to affordably eat some great food prepared by some equally great chefs.  If the menu offers a choice between a Caesar salad and let’s say…braised octopus, let your taste buds take the leap of faith!  Taking a culinary risk is a lot less frightening when you the food is gonna be stellar!

5. Enjoy your meal 🙂
Last but not least, bon apetit!

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Aureole Bar Room

Executive Chef: Marcus Gleadow-Ware
Cuisine: American New
Location: Midtown

Aureole

  • Appetizer (bottom right): fettucini with braised veal breast, wild mushrooms
  • Entrée (bottom left): Scottish salmon with crushed potatoes, watercress, lemon oil
  • Dessert (top): chocolate éclair with poached pear, milk chocolate, sorbet

My Rating (out of 5)
Ambience: ★★★
Service: ★★
Food: ★★

My Thoughts
What exactly is “American New” cuisine?  Good question.  I’ve been to a few restaurants that’ve classified their cooking with similar genres like “Contemporary American” or “Modern American,” and I’ve come to realize they’re all just a chef’s way of saying he’ll cook whatever the heck he wants to.  It’s an eclectic mix of ingredients, flavors, and cooking techniques that mirrors the melting pot of cultures that create America.  Having said that, it should come to no surprise that the menu options were rooted in cuisines from around the world.  My appetizer—fettucini cooked to a perfect al dente with scrumptiously tender bits of veal—could have easily come from your grandmother’s kitchen in Italy.  And my entrée?  It even says so in the title—buttery, flakey salmon from the high roads of Scotland.  My elegant dessert—a decadent chocolate éclair—could rival even the best pâtisseries in France.  Aureole is most certainly deserving of its Michelin Star…but the one thing that could have made this meal perfect: turn off the dang cover music!  If you think “Call Me Maybe” is annoying enough, try listening to bad acoustic covers of it for two hours.

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Tamarind Tribeca

Executive Chef: Avtar Walia
Cuisine: Indian
Location: Tribeca

TamarindTribeca

Honestly, I couldn’t possibly remember names and descriptions of the dishes because they were so long, but I’ll try to give my own descriptions!

  • Appetizer (right): crispy seasoned and fried fish with pickled vegetables and a spicy green sauce
  • Entrée (top left): grilled prawn with basmati rice and  (I think) goat curry, all served with a huge array of sauces, masala, and naan
  • Dessert (bottom left): fig ice cream

My Rating (out of 5)
Ambience: ★★★★★
Service: ★★★★★
Food: ★★★

My Thoughts
I love Indian food.  I love the spiciness, I love the exotic flavors, and I love the variety.  My perception of Indian cuisine in New York has been pretty limited to the East Village icons Milon, Panna II, and Royal Bangladesh (yes, those cheap Indian joints with the tacky chili pepper Christmas lights), as well as a few places I’ve tried in Curry Hill.  I’ve never really eaten—for lack of a better word—”upscale” Indian.  Tamarind Tribeca has one star in the Michelin Guide, so my expectations were high.  Before even stepping foot inside the restaurant, I knew that its location in ritzy Tribeca meant that chili pepper Christmas lights would definitely not be found hanging from the ceilings.  Tamarind Tribeca is gorgeous!  So definitely props to the architect.  And boy, do they treat you like royalty here.  Their service was just as polished as the interior.  The list of options—even for the Restaurant Week menu—was actually quite overwhelming, but they were very knowledgeable and nice enough to explain the dishes.  Maybe because the restaurant wasn’t too busy that day, but the staff was incredibly attentive.  Our glasses were always filled with water, crumbs were always wiped off our table, and empty dishes were always cleared immediately.  As for the food, I could probably give a better judgment if I were more familiar with Indian cuisine.  Don’t get me wrong, the food was fantastic, but for a Michelin-starred restaurant, I was kind of expecting it to be mind-blowingly better than the cheaper Indian places.  The presentation was obviously more beautiful, but flavor-wise, it was pretty similar.  Maybe my tongue isn’t refined enough to taste higher quality ingredients, but if you’re on a college budget like me, Curry Hill will suffice for your Indian fix!  During Restaurant Week, however, I would definitely recommend giving Tamarind Tribeca a try.

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The Darby

  • Executive Chef: Alex Guarnaschelli
  • Cuisine: Continental
  • Location: West Village

TheDarby

  • Appetizer (top left): Darby veal bacon with homemade red mustard
  • Entrée (right): seared Atlantic salmon over wild rice
  • Dessert (bottom left): Cinnamon pecan ice cream sandwich

My Rating (out of 5)
Ambience: ★★★★★
Service: ★★★
Food: ★★★★★

My Thoughts
I’m a huge fan of Alex Guarnaschelli.  She’s one of my favorite Food Network personalities (host of Alex’s Day Off, frequent judge on Chopped, and was most recently crowned as the next Iron Chef).  She’s plays the role of Executive Chef at both The Darby and at Butter, which I’ve tried during a previous Restaurant Week and absolutely LOVED.  After eating at Butter, I knew I had to give The Darby a try.  I’ve passed by a few times because it’s situated on 14th St pretty close to campus, but the exterior gives no clue as to what goes on inside.  The façade consists of black wood panelling and no windows, only a huge door with a sign above.  But stepping through the vestibule was like traveling in a time machine.  All of a sudden, it’s 1963.  The waiters are dressed in white shirts and bow ties, round tables with red leather upholstery line the perimeter of the restaurant, and the most incredible part…

312388_10151195256021770_1243506408_n

…there’s a very dapper group of gentleman on stage playing live jazz music.  At The Darby, I could easily be sharing an Old-Fashioned with Don Draper.  As for the food, there’s not much to say.  It was nothing less than perfect, and only solidified my love for Iron Chef Guarnaschelli.  Service was a bit slow at times, and the hostess wasn’t the friendliest person in the world, but the meal and the ambience were stellar and made for an extremely memorable evening.

Happy eating my friends!
-Syd

About Syd

Sup! I'm Syd. I just recently graduated from the Strategic Design & Management program this past fall, but I'm still kickin' it on iheartparsons.com to offer some words of wisdom! I love Sriracha sauce, quoting Spongebob Squarepants, solving Rubik's Cubes, and electronic dance music. Go Parsons!

One comment

  1. Pingback: Chow Time: Winter Restaurant Week 2014 | I HEART PARSONS

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