Tag Archives: next iron chef

Butter for Restaurant Week Winter 2013

28 Jan

Even if Executive Chef Alex Guarnaschelli (who just won Next Iron Chef) has nothing to do with Butter at this point in her career (which I am not sure about at all… I’ve heard she doesn’t do much with the restaurant anymore, but it’s hard to tell), you would never know. We have been meaning to go to Butter for years, and just never got around to it. I had heard it was good, but no one raved about it so it never made it high up on my list. But when we were trying to find a few new places to try for Restaurant Week this winter, we decided that in light of Chef Guarnaschelli’s recent win, we would check it out.

It’s right by the Public Theater in the East Village. We were seated downstairs and enjoyed the wood tree trunks and sticks that decorated the room. It had a nice, loungy feel with low couch benches in the bar areas and music playing in the rooms.

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Here was the Restaurant Week menu for dinner on Sunday, January 27th.

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And the regular menu.

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And of course, since it’s butter, here is the butter shot.

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And some more butter porn. (The butter itself was decent, but nothing too special and I could have used with a larger portion to cover off on the bread that was on the table.

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But the pumpernickel and sour dough breads were top notch.

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We decided to start with cocktails, and since they were so good, we continued drinking them throughout the meal (rather than switching to wine, which is our usual MO). I got the Pearadise with pear infused Bacardi rum, fresh pear puree, St. Germain liqueur, muddled limes and mint. It was fantastic. Perfectly sweet without being cloyingly so. Mike got the Mickey Blue Eyes, which was a martini made with Grey Goose Vodka and blue cheese stuffed olives.

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Mike started with the House Made Charcuterie Platter. This came with house-cured bacon, duck breast mortadella, and chicken liver toast with spicy napa cabbage. This was awesome. The mortadella had a great flavor, and the chicken liver was packed with flavor and had these perfect crispy onions on top. But the bacon… ohhh boyyyy the bacon.

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I got the soup of the day, which was a butternut squash soup. I have had butternut squash soup all over the world at this point, and I am a fan simply because I really love butternut squash soup. You don’t need to get fancy with it to be delicious, but that also means that most people serve butternut squash soup that tastes just like everyone else’s version. Sure, some people put in some toasted pumpkin seeds or some basil oil (and I sure do love it when they do) but the soup itself usually just tastes like squash, or squash and apples.

But this… this butternut squash was The Shit. I never knew squash soup could have this much depth of flavor. A bit of brown butter flavor and sweetness (from what I assume was brown sugar but not sure) with a layer of fresh squashy goodness. And the salted popcorn to accompany it was just perfect. I actually asked for more bread so I could lop up every last drop of soup. It was, hands down, the best butternut squash soup I have ever had.

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As we started the entree portion of our meal, the additional side of cider glazed roasted parsnips came out. These had thinly sliced apple chips on top and the cider glaze was superb. It was the perfect compliment to the roasted parsnips and it was great comfort food without being heavy.

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Mike chose the House Made Ricotta Ravioli with roasted oyster mushrooms, chili flakes (which they nicely served on the side so that I could eat it), and pecorino cheese. I thought the sauce and mushrooms went very well with the ricotta in the ravioli, which was fluffy and a tad tart, with great flavor. Though in the end, I never order cheese ravioli because I just find myself hard to impress with any version.

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I ordered the Braised Pork Shoulder with a pretzel crumb crust and buttered rutabega. This was also outstanding. A great pork flavor over a bed of creamy rutabega. The little salty crispness of the pretzel with the cabbage on top was delightful. It was perfectly tender so you could just pull it apart with your fork. Fantastic.

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For dessert, Mike chose the Ginger Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich with vanilla ice cream and spiced pecans. It was very good, with a well flavored ginger cookie and what I think were golden raisins with orange zest. The pecans were spiced with something pepper related that I couldn’t have (but Mike enjoyed) and while the cookie was a bit hard to cut, the dessert was very good.

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My dessert came out and the first thing I noticed was that it was tiny. It’s hard to tell in this shot, but the piece of chocolate cake was about 3 inches tall and wide and less than 1/2 an inch thick. But BOY was this big on flavor.

The chocolate was rich and decadent, the pomegranate seeds adding a little bit of lightness to it, and a shmear of awesome salted caramel. The entire dish was so fantastic, and so packed with flavor, I didn’t miss those additional bites.

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As the meal ended, I told Mike how I wanted to lick my plate for every single dish I had. (That is one of the highest compliments I can give a place!) The execution was flawless and I didn’t feel like we lost anything by ordering off the Restaurant Week menu. Portions weren’t huge, but I walked away totally satiated.

Overall, this was a standout meal not just for Restaurant Week, but overall. I was truly impressed and look forward to returning again in the near future. I can’t believe it took us that long to go!

Total Nom Points: 8.5 out of 10

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Forwarding our Food Network Sluttiness with Marc Forgione

5 Nov

Mike and I were watching The Next Iron Chef on Food Network and decided to look up Marc Forgione’s (a contestant on the show) restaurant since it’s in NYC.  We found it was in TriBeCa… and served brunch.  So we, of course, decided to schedule brunch for the next day (Sunday) since we’re such Food Network sluts.

There were many awesome sounding things on the menu, and I was especially excited to try the Eggs Benny that came with butternut squash “homefries” and crispy prosciutto.  Unfortunately, however, there were peppers in the hollandaise… so I was SOL.

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The interior was very rustic.  I loved the candle lamps above the big table in the middle.

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And they even had a mini spiral staircase.

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The most tips on Four Square were about the “Suck You Sliders” made with suckling pig.  They warned us they had peppers in the rub, however, I decided to risk it and Mike and I split them.

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The meat inside was perfectly tender and delicious with a bit of crackling still on it.  It was definitely spicy (especially, surprisingly, in the pickles and on the potatoes!) but it was worth the pain.  Hurts so good.

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Mike went with “The Sandwich,” which was buckwheat pancakes as bread with crispy bacon and a sunny side up egg in the middle.

The pancakes looked very weird. (Were they cut out with those weird rough edges?) They were a bit dry and bland as well.  Disappointing.

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But the bacon was fantastic.  Thick cut and crispy.

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I went with the bacon, egg, and cheese (which came with a parmesan popover)… even though I had to trade out the bacon for the sausage since the bacon had peppers.  But I’m glad I did because this was probably the best sausage I have ever had.  It was sweet and savory all at the same time.  Tasted incredibly fresh.

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The eggs were soft scrambled and mixed with sun dried tomatoes.  Well cooked but lacking in flavor.

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And the popover just threw me for a loop.  I LOVE popovers.  And I mean LOVE them. Really really love them.  Did I mention I love popovers?  (And yes, while I really do love them, that was mostly an excuse to link to 4 other blog postings where I talk about how much I love popovers.)

These popovers, however, were too eggy and COLD.  COLD!  The flavors of everything were so good but there is no excuse for a cold popover.  Shame.

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Oddly, when we asked for a dessert menu, we were told they don’t have one!  Seemed like a huge missed opportunity to sell more to current customers… but what can you do? I was disappointed, however, because I read good things about their pumpkin pie and it WAS Halloween and all.  Oh well.

Overall, I think this place was fantastic for flavor, and average for execution.  I was surprised that the popover was cold and dull, the buckwheat pancakes were dry and dull, and the eggs themselves were kind of… dull.  But for the bacon, sausage, and sliders, I would definitely go back and try this place for dinner.

Total Nom Points: 6.5 out of 10