Posted by: Hungry Korean | April 1, 2010


Cooper Square Hotel is this huge glass tower that emerges from the middle of downtown Manhattan. It’s all glass, very modern looking and pretty much looks like some alien spaceship in the middle of the urban jungle. (By the way, what is up with these all glass towers that are being erected around the city – don’t people realize it just looks weird against the concrete buildings and streets?)  Down at the base of this “wanna be trendy but never became so” hotel once sat the Table 8 restaurant (of Miami fame). Fail.

So Scott Conant of Scarpetta tried his hand on it and took over (Round 2), gutted the place and renamed it Faustina. The best way for me to describe the food is Italian small plates. The prices seem cheaper than Scarpetta but don’t be fooled cuz the portions are small as well.

Half Hopi and I had expressed an interest in trying this place and she managed to book a reservation for four and invited me and Cookie Monster to join her and Spiderman. (ha. Cookie Monster and Spiderman ate with us. Funny) The restaurant is pretty, sleek and modern. We were seated in the back restaurant space.

The menu is a bit confusing. There’s all these bruschettas and meats sectioned on one side and then raw plates and other small plates that seem to be appetizers but it’s unclear are these to be shared? Cuz then there are actually appetizers, another section of pastas and then the main courses. There’s all these little divisions in the menu and frankly it’s confusing.  Our waiter, when asked says, “you can share everything including the main courses if you want” (duh- isn’t that with every restaurant technically?). SO we shared a bunch of smaller things and then had a main course each.

The table started with the raw scallop drizzled with EVOO, shards of grapefruit and some weird no flavor flowers. Half Hopi and I were hoping it tasted similar to the ones served at L’Artusi.

Yeah not so much. First, TOO MUCH OLIVE OIL! That’s all you could taste! Second, it needed salt. Scallop was sweet and fresh though. We were all blah-seh about it. Shocker: Cookie Monster had half the portion! First timer did good. He never eats adventurously.

Then we had the poached duck egg in a fontina sauce.

Grilled buttered ciabatta bread is sliced and served for dunking. So the sauce was good (I mean it’s cheese sauce) and the egg was nice and runny but a bit TOO runny. Towards the end when the cheese sauce was all mopped up there was this gross pool of uncooked egg whites. YUCK.

Now came the pastas. Cookie Monster and I shared the mushroom ravioli with porcini and parmigiano.

I am not kidding. It looked like that. A plate with a huge pile of foam on it. I hate foam. I think that is one of the dumbest things to ever be introduced in the culinary world. What purpose does it serve? It’s like bubbled up flavor of nothing. And then it wilts away…there’s nothing really substantial about it. Ok I’m done ranting.

Here is the innard of a ravioli:

This ravioli was definitely homemade pasta (good) and it was full of mushroom flavor (fine) but there were like 5 of them and they were tiny. And then of course there was that foam. So this dish was a miss on all respects in my book.

Half Hopi and Spiderman shared the black truffle risotto with egg and parmigiano.

Yummy truffle shaved on top of and infused that creamy cheesy risotto sauce with hints of earthy mushroom. Definitely better flavors here than our ravioli BUT….too bad the risotto was undercooked and too al dente.

For main course, Spiderman and Half Hopi went halfsies on the Black Bass and the lamb. They liked the lamb better. Cookie Monster and I shared the glazed Berkshire pork chop for two. The glaze was sweet and reminiscent of bbq sauce. The chop is presented to the table then taken back for slicing.

They were sliced like 2 inches thick! I wish they sliced it a tad thinner but the pork was quality, nice and perfectly fatty and the glaze was nice but the meat badly needed salt. (Do we see a common theme here? or lack thereof)But seriously for the price of $42, salt should not be the problem here. Seasoning should be spot on.  The reduced glazed parts on the protein were nice – sort of that area on a bbq rib that tastes so good – where the flavor is all caramelized and concentrated.

So some more great stories were shared, one particularly hilarious one about liquid cleanses a la Spiderman and the four of us left quite satisfied by conversation but not so much by the meal.  We left underwhelmed. I’m surprised and disappointed too — I expected more from Scott Conant. Oh well.

What could Round 3 hold?

Faustina, 25 Cooper Square, New York, NY


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