Well, it's that time of year again... Restaurant Week in NYC!
For those of you who may not be familiar with this fantastic event, here is a quick breakdown. Twice a year (once in July and once in January) some of New York's most fabulous restaurants give their patrons a treat and offer three course pre-fixe lunch and dinner menus for $24 and $35 respectively. The menus usually consist of a few options for each course - appetizer, main, and dessert. It's a great opportunity to visit those restaurants which you otherwise might never try (mostly because on a regular day, you can barely afford to walk in the door)!
Amongst our copious reservations were a dinner slot at Brasserie 8 and 1/2 and a lunch reservation at Mercer Kitchen. Both were very memorable, albeit for very different reasons. If you haven't been to Brasserie 8 and 1/2, let's just say you're not missing much. The cavernous basement space is far too large to really pull off what we think was an attempt at an intimate French style cafe. Everything about it just seemed a bit lackluster - from the enormous booths, the too-big tablecloths, the ugly artwork, our constantly empty water glasses, to the service staff that all seemed completely unhappy to be working there. There was a bright spot though - a 'crispy hen's egg' that accompanied a piece of roasted suckling pig. This egg was so intriguing we had to ask to see the chef to figure out how he made it!
I'm sure we'll be stealing that idea... stay tuned.
While we indeed mired in our culinary disappointment overnight, our lunch the next day more than made up for it! Ah, Mercer Kitchen. Another basement space, but this one so captivating that the food could have been dismal and we probably would have enjoyed our experience anyway. With a unique palette of greys, blacks, and soft lavender, the designers made excellent use of a probably less than desirable spot! The natural light coming in from the sidewalk grates overhead only make your lunch more special, and the extremely attentive waitstaff pulled it off without a hitch! And the food was absolutely lovely to boot. We tried a few things, most notably the chestnut and celery root soup and the Niman Ranch sliders, both of which paired nicely with the lemonade with vodka and thyme. All in all, it was a perfect lunch, and a great way to end our trip to 'the greatest city in the world'!
So, if you're up for a trip to the big apple, we recommend scheduling it during one of the two Restaurant Weeks. We made our reservations on Open Table - it's super easy and you earn points towards gift certificates just for eating out!