Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Restaurant Week!

That's right, folks, it's time once again for that week that comes only once a year, when some of New York City's best restaurants offer Prix Fixe deals for lunch and dinner, allowing regular people to go there without missing a rent payment or skipping out on the phone bill or something. Except it now happens twice a year. And it happens two weeks at a time. So it's sort of like "Restaurant Month, but we broke it up so it happens twice." But that doesn't exactly roll trippingly off the tongue, now does it?

But I'm not complaining! Having a broader target for this kind of thing is all good. This time round, Cory and I went to 5 Ninth. I'd never been there before, but it's one of Cory's favorite places, and now I know why. I've never been all that good at writing food porn, but for today, I'll give it a try...

It's a beautiful space that appears to have been a townhouse or something in a previous life, down on 9th Ave at that funky corner of Gansevoort and Little West 12th (you know - that block where everyone looks like a model? Probably because they are models?), simply but elegantly furnished, with some great garden seating in the back (and what seemed to be a nice upstairs dining area too, though I didn't get a lingering look at it). We had a drink at the bar first - I made the HUGE mistake of not looking at their cocktail menu before I ordered a simple Gin & Tonic, and so missed out on some really great offerings that I wouldn't have come up with on my own. Cory had the "house cocktail" which changes every so often, and yesterday involved armagnac shaken over ice with lemon and kummel (do you know this? it's a liqueur I'd never heard of - caraway is the predominant flavor) then poured into a cocktail glass and topped with Champagne. Yum!

We decided that it was worth the wait to be out in the garden, and once we got there, we were served by an entire battalion of waiters, waitresses and bussers. There was some training of a new employee going on, but that's no bother in my opinion. All were pleasant and knowledgeable; although our frontman wasn't totally up on the wine list, he just grabbed the host, who handled our questions adroitly without any of the snob effect that sometimes accompanies people who know their wine. We got a very interesting bottle of Albarino, a wine I wasn't familiar with. From Galicia, it was as promised dry, very slightly effervescent, with hints of grass - perfect for a summer night, especially well-suited to seafood.

The 5 Ninth Restaurant Week menu changes every few days, so it's not up on their website, but that's a good thing too - that way nothing gets stale, including the kitchen's attitude. Cory started with the local greens, about which she had no complaint; I opened with the roast pork belly. If I'd had any doubt that I was in for a meal and a half, that ended the moment I bit through the bib lettuce into the tender delicious burst of flavor within. I've said it before, and I'll say it again (before I finish this entry, I'll wager): yum! Cory's main course was cod with an edamame puree, and I had the truffled ravioli, which were round but not overplump with delicate cheese filling, covered in an amazing basil sauce and truffles, and which coyly hid some roasted grape tomatoes.

I was starting to wonder what good thing I've done recently that allowed me to deserve such a meal.

We got around to dessert, and as valiantly as the fruit salad strove for our attention, we both went for the inevitable chocolate pot de creme. I have now three times tried and failed to describe this dessert without resorting to a sexual reference. For now, I'll keep it simple, and allow myself a reference to the Dark Knight zeitgeist. Holy yum, Batman!

Didn't bring a camera (wouldn't have wanted to shoot the food anyway; as deserving as it was, that would have injured the evening) so you'll have to make do with the descriptions and the website link. Anyway, hope you've enjoyed reading about it - I enjoyed writing it, but not anywhere nearly as much as I enjoyed the event.

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