jessica in wonderland (61st between Park and Lex)
My gramie comes to NYC once a year. A newly instated tradition (2011 is the second year) is one extravagant meal a visit (that I get to pick!) just me, Rob, my Uncle Ricky and Gramie. Last year we went to Nobu 57 and were blown away by the black cod with miso. On Saturday, we had our second annual meal at David Burke Townhouse.
Rob and I, notorious for being late, arrived 20 minutes early and were greeted by an exceptionally pleasant staff. We declined the offer to wait at our table and took two seats at the bar. Here I made a mistake, I was so ready for a drink (we had spent the day volunteering with dogs, which always makes me somewhat emotional) I didn’t even notice the menu, and ordered a cosmopolitan. Before you judge me, these SATC-popularized drinks are actually quite delicious when made correctly and I drink them without shame. I like them with a shot of muddled cucumber– try it. I later tried the Paragon. It was AMAZING. I don’t really know how to describe the drink– a pear mojito but not sweet? Just go and get it.
I loved the decor of this restaurant. Okay, some of the paintings were a bit tacky, but it only made the place more approachable. It was whimsical without feeling like a circus and I totally bought it– food/dining should be fun!
We ordered four appetizers to share: the Pretzel Crusted Crabcake, Sweetbread Fricassee, Parfait of Big Eye Tuna & Salmon Tartares, and the Pastrami Salmon & Buckwheat Bellinis. And I would rank them in that order. I don’t love crabcakes, but my Gramie wanted the dish and I had heard it was good. It was more than good, it was the best crabcake I’ve ever had. Light and fluffy but strongly flavored, the pretzel/crab combo is fantastic.
The main event was spectacular. I ordered the sea scallops– they were cooked a perfect medium rare, and the accompanying sauces and mushrooms were fragrant and delightful. Highly recommend the dish. However, I would give the best choice award to my Uncle who, with my prodding, picked the lobster “steak”. (I wanted to try it but thought it would be overly rich and too extravagant a meal choice. I was wrong.) It was rich, but the buttery taste of the lobster was perfectly offset by lemon and herbs. It melted in your mouth. Rob had the only disappointing dish of the night– he ordered the Casco bay cod expecting heat, but got smoke instead.
By desert we were all stuffed– but how do you not get the famous cheesecake lollipop tree? It was more fun to look at than eat, probably because I was so stuffed, but no regret ordering it. I tasted the bubblegum whipped cream which I applaud for inventiveness and creativity, but not for taste– it was odd. The lollipops themselves were yummy, but just yummy, not amazing.
All said, it was a fantastic meal. I would not recommend the restaurant as a place to frequent (in part due to the price, but also the richness of the food), but I would certainly highly recommend it for a special treat. I’m also dying to try the $35 prix fixe Sunday brunch, which I’m pretty sure might make me eat my words about frequently visiting.