Posted by: Hungry Korean | August 10, 2011

Marc Forgione

Marc Forgione is the next Iron Chef. He won the most recent competition for “The Next Iron Chef” on Food Network.  I have to be honest, I hadn’t followed the second season and so I had never heard of him or his restaurant until Cookie Monster suggested we try it for my birthday dinner Monday night.  A quick perusal of Yelp and I discovered raving reviews about the food. After the disaster at Niko, I was excited to try it out.

The restaurant is really cool. There’s alot of dark wood, wood paneling, wood furniture that sort of reminded me of being in a country restaurant or a barn that might have been converted to a restaurant. It’s full of nicknacks and homey sort of things that give the place a very relaxed feel. Despite what you might think – the place is also quite sexy and sophisticated as well.  I quite liked the decor.

We had to wait for our table since we arrived early so we started with a drink at the bar. I was surprised to see the restaurant was probably 70% full on a Monday night – good sign.  Cookie Monster had a glass of wine while I decided to try their summer sangria which had honeydew melon, Pimms, cucumber and maybe some other ingredients I cannot recall:

It was sweet but refreshing.  I liked the cucumber garnish which I thought was very appropriate with Pimm’s.

The menu is nouveau American fare that is comforting but with elegance.  It has your standard servings of appetizer, entree and things to share but they also serve a chef’s tasting menu (from which you can also order off of).  We opted a la carte.

They served us their buttered rolls with an amazing butter. I could be wrong but the flecks of brown tasted like caramelized onions or shallots or maybe even roasted garlic:

See the lovely sheen on the rolls? It’s butter. 🙂  The rolls were quite dry at the bottom. I’m guessing the kitchen makes a bunch in the morning and keeps it warm for service and at 9pm, the rolls might have dried out.  I still liked them.

An amuse bouche came out from the kitchen:

The amuse on the left was very thinly sliced zucchini french fries with homemade ketchup.  The ketchup was much tarter than your regular Heinz fare and that tartness complemented the fried zucchini quite well. I enjoyed it and it got your salivary glands going.  The amuse on the right was a cold vegetable gazpacho that was very refreshing and clean.

I wasn’t very hungry so I decided to simply order an entree while Cookie Monster started with something off the tasting menu, the chili lobster with texas toast (which I sampled).

I’m not sure if the lobster was butter poached or boiled but it was cooked perfectly. Not a trace of chewiness. That wonderful chili sauce is sriracha (which is an uber spicy asian condiment), butter and lobster stock. It totally made the dish. I have never had lobster served this way.  The buttered texas toast is to sop up all that goodness. Wow. What is not to love about this dish: spicy, buttery, savory, LOBSTER….

The plates and silverware were cleared and new ones were provided.  One thing we noted is that Marc Forgione’s name is everywhere.  On the name of the restaurant, on his bottle of wine (we ordered a red Sancerre and apparently it’s his vintage) and on his silverware.  Not sure if you can make it out – but his signature appears on the steak knives LOL:

For main course, Cookie Monster ordered the olive tapanade crusted veal tenderloin with eggplant and chickpeas:

Cookie Monster hates olives but we misheard the server and both thought the tapenade was an eggplant tapanade. Turns out it’s olive tapenade and crusted on the veal.  I LOVED IT.  The olives added a salty earthy flavor to the oh-so-tender veal tenderloin which was cooked with a lovely pink center. I also liked the vinegar based sauce – thought it cut the richness of the veal well.  Unfortunately, the chickpeas were undercooked and hard but I didn’t feel it took away too much from the dish. As much as Cookie Monster hates olives, he still ate all the veal because the protein was so delicious and well cooked.

I got the ribeye with black kale:

Loved the knob of garlic herbed butter – as if ribeye isn’t decadent enough :).  The black kale was cooked enough so that the toughness of kale was taken away. The fries aren’t uber crispy which I liked and seasoned. I tend to like my fries on the soggy side.

The meat: cooked PERFECTLY medium rare and incredibly juicy with a nice crispy char on the outside.  I ate every bit. It was a phenomenal cut of meat. It’s presented like filet mignon because the cut was quite thick but it was actually ribeye. You could tell it is ribeye because the meat was marbled in all that lovely fat. Filet is much leaner.  That piece of meat melt in your mouth good. Every bite had a full beefy flavor. Really enjoyed it.

Here’s an interior shot – you can see how well cooked and the thickness of the cut:

For dessert, we got the banana sundae:

YUM! I loved the deep fried tempura banana!  It was crunchy on the outside and soft and warm on the inside.  There was banana whipped cream layered on caramel crunchies layered on banana ice cream layered on cooked bananas layered on banana bread. This was a full on banana treat and it was amazing. I really really liked this dessert and I couldn’t stop eating it even though I was so full from steak. This is a must have.

This meal was one of the best I’ve had in a long time. I wholeheartedly agree with all the reviews out there and it’s no wonder that reservations are quite difficult to obtain and waits can be long even with a reservation. The restaurant itself is beautiful, the service was polite and friendly and the food was delicious! I’m usually partial to Italian fare when I’m looking for comforting food but this place could easily top that list – it’s creative but comforting and the flavors are really well thought out.  Congrats on the win, Chef! I can now see why!

Marc Forgione, 134 Reade Street, New York, NY

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