Thursday, June 16, 2011

Rouge et Blanc, New York

Being country folks, we get tired easily in the big city. Tonight we slept from about 6 until 9. At that point, I'm proud to say, we rallied and went out until late. Party on Wayne, Garth. Get your Empire State on.

We're New Yorkers now, for a little while, so we hopped in a cab and headed to SoHo. The stretch of MacDougal below Houston has a bunch of decent-looking places, but you know what an invertebrate walker-arounder I am, so we had to do some laps of the neighborhood before ending up where we started. R+B got the knod mainly on the strength of the menu, which wasn't boring.

The decor isn't boring either, but I admit I no clue they were going for "1940's French Colonial". I'm not sure how they could get more of that...likely some ferns and a few belt-driven ceiling fans would help me get in the spirit.

Spirit, though, is one thing this place isn't lacking at all. Customers yes, a bit lacking (which is really weird considering how good it is), but Tom (America's 8th-best sommelier, and I mean that respectfully, not ironically) and the rest of the staff are nothing if not welcoming as well as passionate and knowledgable about the food. (Disclosure: Melissa the pastry chef comped me half a glass of wine. Yet again I'm reminded that I'm small fry.)

Well, enougha my yackin', here's more of my yackin', now about the food from Matt Rojas (Eleven Madison Park, see...tomorrow night!). I see from other reviews that there's general agreement on what's interesting about the menu - 4 of these dishes overlap in almost every writeup. The bone marrow with baby octopus is one (and it's worth getting). The razor clams with charred leeks are another (cooked beautifully so they're meaty, with the ashiness of the onions in contrast). Can we get some of these at Tsukiji and try this at home? The stuffed squash blossoms were good, maybe not great; the frying wasn't what I'm used to. Back at the left, that's a quail with blue foot mushrooms, all really really good, and unneccessary fried quail eggs on top. Desserts are the foie gras with peaches and cocoa nibs (other reviews seem positively shocked by this, shocked I tell you, but if you're going to eat foie as a savory course with peach compote and a glass of Sauternes, it's not much of a jump to add ice cream) and then the french toast with...a buncha berries and orange stuff I've forgotten.

As befits a restaurant owned by America's 8th-best sommelier, they have a good glass-wine program going. (Disclosure: I badgered Tom into giving me half a glass of a wine sample they got from a distributor and had decided not to stock. Such a provincial cheapskate I am, oi.) As befits a place I'd be willing to spend money again, it's really pretty good. Hopefully business is building, because I think they oughta be a little more hopping on a Thursday night in June now that they're 8 months in.

Still, whaddo I know from SoHo?
(212) 260-5757

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