Saturday, February 5, 2011

Print., New York

Thank goodness I can say with a clear conscience that Print. is a great restaurant. Cuz works there (except on this, her night off, when she squired Mom and Dad and me), and they gave us all manner of compage, but I'd be happy going here any time. It's in Hells Kitsch, which may make it more convenient for any of you that live in the Bronx.

Evidently one thing the staff always say when they meet other industry people is "We're not affiliated with the hotel," which is a fair thing to be defensive about. I was a little snippy about it until she told me, and of course after going I could care less where it is.

The atmosphere is...geez, do I even need to say it's dark and a bit noisy? Being out West like this, in a converted printing factory and surrounded by car dealers, it doesn't get quite the glamor traffic that it might. But it's clearly known - I mentioned it the previous night, and the ever-stylish Wolf immediately said he'd been to the lounge over the summer. This picture is unintelligible, and it's one of the best interior shots I got. This is the long, high table for about 20; I imagine it's casual and communal in the current style, but no one was sitting at it - everyone was at the regular tables, which are utilitarian but, as befits their utilitarianity, get the job done.

That job is supporting food. Let's start. Good blue-point oysters (you're a tool if you can ruin oysters in early February, eh?). Terrific burratta with sauteed broccoli plus a touch of pignoli and anchovy. A plate of good amberjack sashimi (fish names are a hassle - a little web searching shows that English speakers think ameberjack is a "Japanese yellowtail", meaning it's buri! I guess it was similar to the half a hamachi I had at home last weekend, but I'm more of the opinion that this is a big 'striped jack' or shima aji. Whatever, nice that they left it chunky and did appropriate but not excessive oil and salad. Dad's goat cheese and beets; phenomenal beets, or am I just deprived? My octopus, chorizo and potatoes; a nice twist that seems meant to combine the classic octopus and potatoes with the classic potatoes and sausage. Really good cooking here too. And Mom's cheesy gnocchi were delicious, and I don't say that lightly. I don't take pictures lightly in this place either...I would tell you to get any of these plates again in a second.

This mixed meat plate, however, I would strongly advise against getting. I want it all to myself. Leave it for me. Several varieties here were close to the line where I go hyperbolic and say 'amazing', and saying that usually makes me feel dirty. Boy was this good, especially the dried stuff. It's not the best ham in the world, but what is? It's no crime to fall short when it's cured in Brooklyn, not Barcelona. Phew.

It's already more than a week after the event, so I'm struggling to remember the mains. Top left is my bass with sunchoke puree and brussels sprouts - both things you don't get enough of in Japan, and in truth the main attraction of the dish. Nothing wrong with the fish cookery here though. Dad somehow went vegetarian for the whole meal, getting the, errrrr, baked potato with lots of vegetables. He liked it. I bet Mom had the duck with kale, turnips and blood orange sauce just because of the kale...can't remember if I tried this or not. And Cuz had another fish dish, I'm going to guess tuna, grilled and topped with squiddy bits. Sorry, my memory is about as good as the photography here. I can stand by the cooking on the basis of the bass though.

What I liked about that plate, and the style in general, is how it's a collection of items that are each great on their own, separate enough that you can graze and alternate among them, and still go well together. It frustrates me when a plate has a fussy construction of 3 elements that appear as separate words on the menu, possibly encouraging me to order the dish, and then turn out to be one bite between them. This did not frustrate me at all, nor did I find the plates comically large. I should also mention the prices; without any fancy treatment, you can expect to pay $50++ for three courses, and for this level of cooking and volume, that is easily within my Tokyo-driven expectations.

The selection of desserts that arrived just as we were starting to think about asking for the dessert menu, however, was a bit comically large. Or largesse-ful, at least. Print. is cool enough to have a named pastry chef. As mentioned previously, I was kinda dessert-focused this week, but I generally like it when the dessert has an identity of its own. The first time I can remember getting interested in that was at MK in Chicago; that was more than 10 years ago, but it looks like they've perpetuated the fancy-desserts theme (and are even on the 'cutely named' bandwagon).

Starting with the big lump bottom left and going clockwise, we have: chocolate bread, 'redolent' of cardamom and 'gooey' with chocolate 'chunks'. With fresh cream and honey, although it's really moist and sweet enough as it is. Whipped cream with chocolate sorbet; I have a feeling this doesn't get ordered much (if in fact it's on a menu; we didn't get to see one) but that's a shame - the cream is naturally sweet from the cows' diet, and is delicious. I can't remember what the pudding-with-nut-brittle thing was. The, errrr, toffee pudding, a cake soaked with toffee, was in the sickly-sweet category (that I love so so much, yum). And the ricotta creme brulee was a good version, topped with stewed apple and sided by apple sorbet. A bit simpler than the other cooking, these are all 'simple' and 'honest' and 'ingredient driven', and I hate writing those things, but they're really appropriate when the dessert is "a bowl of white stuff" and still tastes great.

Service was very professional and solicitous (remember that we were friends of the house), although I feel like they can get a bit thin on the ground when things are busy. That said, I'm used to Japan, where you yell when you want service, and if you don't get it right away, the solution is to yell louder. Print. really made good on New York's promise of modern American food, and I wouldn't hesitate to go back or tell you to go.

That's a wrap. Cut. Print..
212-757-2224

1 comment:

  1. Cuz had amberjack for her main...and the duck was actually selected for the duck although the kale was rather good!

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