Tuesday, May 15, 2012

David Burke Kitchen at James Hotel, NYC

23 Grand Street
Soho New York City

There’s just something about Burke that keeps us craving more!  We trekked from his townhouse on the upper east side down to his kitchen in Soho because he can not disappoint our taste buds!  I’d happily travel from one part of the city to try all of his restaurants.  That of course is what led us to David Burke Kitchen at the James Hotel.  While the day was rainy, we were depending on Burke to give us the food energy we needed to keep up with our busy New York City day of museum hopping.
            Upon our arrival, I immediately fell in love.  Deep breath, the restaurant is EVERYTHING that I want my kitchen to look like and more.  From a large bar, wooden benches, and picnic napkins to a stationery bread bar in the middle of the room, I was in a trance.  Could it possibly get better?  Would it also be love at first bite?  Let’s see....

            Our clocks were apparently set to the early bird special which made us the first patrons to dine...Ekkk guess that reservation wasn’t 100% necessary, but in their defense all of you responsible people were working on a Friday early afternoon.  On second thought, seriously, leave your desk right now and indulge in the magical 3 course pre-fix for $24.07 because it will be worth it.  Yes, you read correctly, 3 courses in New York City for under $25.  Have you left work yet?  Need more convincing? You typical stubborn New Yorkers, okay here goes:


 Our smiley and persuasive waiter greeted us with cold water and giant homemade popovers!!

We love popovers!

 Before he even asked, I needed to put in our “jar” order to start our meal because I was quite intrigued.  Due to the fact that this was the first Friday of lent, we had to alter our plans and go meat free for the day.  As a result, it was no to the chicken liver/pistachio jar, and yes please to the tomato/eggplant/ricotta jar.  Just as described this little jar arrived layered evenly with each ingredient.  O.M.J (oh my jar) the crostini combined with a spoonful of each layer sent my palate into shock.  It was charming in its presentation and plentiful in its flavor.

We scraped that jar clean just as we were deciding on our three courses. 

            Now the prefix will not allow you to order just anything, so as delicious as the black sea bass in a tomato miso vinaigrette with bok choy in tomato & ginger olive oil may sound good (which was pushed several times by the waiter), don’t be swayed!  Follow the rabbit symbol, and hop your way to the included portion of the prix fix menu.  I was drawn to the tuna tartare tacos with whipped avocado, followed by the salmon with parsnip puree, brussel sprouts, and bacon (sigh).  I had to take a deep breath before asking for no bacon.  Dino decided on lobster soup with lobster dumplings and also the salmon.

F.Y.I - Dino and I usually have strict rules:
#1 NO SALMON- it’s easy to cook and hardly ever tastes spectacular
#2 never order the same entrees

We broke two of our rules during this lunch, primarily due to our limited options being surrounded by beef and chicken.  This and the cavatelli were our only choices. For dessert, we put our heads together and chose the ten layer red velvet cake and the warm apple tart.  I know that this is a lot of food for 12 p.m but it’s already been decided on so go with it.

      Dino’s guess as to what was on this flaming burner in a glass pot in the bread station being apple cider was incorrect, in fact it was his first course!  As his lovely lobster dumplings arrives, the waiter made a pit stop at the bread station to get the lobster soup.  

My tiny tuna tacos were visually adorable and I enjoyed very small bites to make them last as long as I could.  The freshness of the tuna with the fresh lime juice really elevated the flavor of this simple taco and polished the dish for me.

 It’s entree time, the light crowd keep the food flying out a little too fast, leaving little time to breathe and digest, but the service was tip top. Our salmon looked delicious and was perfectly cooked, but the stars of the plate were the parsnip puree and believe it or not the brussel sprouts!  I actually found myself searching for more, when does that happen?  I don’t know what he did to make brussels edible but holy delicious.   I felt like I was a judge on the show Chopped, you know the contestants  always seem to create a puree and a parsnip puree seemed like something they would immediately present.  As tasty as the dish was, I couldn’t help but think how much more amazing it would be with bacon!  There are no points deducted as it was Burke’s intention to include that fantastic ingredient however we did question our religion for a moment/ wonder why we foolishly went to his restaurant knowing we would have to play vegetarians for the day.

 Our finale concluded with a disappointing duo of desserts.  My warm apple tart was more like a burnt, deflated pillsbury biscuit with a few thinly sliced apples.  As far as the red velvet 10 layer cake was concerned, I think they may be more successful trying to stick to one layer.  Perhaps a new dessert concept wouldn’t hurt.  The color of this red velvet was extremely dark and the cheesy plate scribble did not work for us.
While Dino used the restroom, I took a moment to be sly and get the check before he got back. I’m a lucky lady whose fella always pays, but I wanted to treat him for a change!  The waiter on the other hand seemed a pinch confused as he stated, “really?”  YES a girl can treat her boy to a meal too, hmfph!
            Burke, we’ll be back for certain, probably for brunch and definitely not on a Friday during lent.   We are making plans for a possible Burke in the Box visit soon, so watch out for a review in a next few weeks.  Keep up the beauty and amazing decor because it certainly works for us and tons of other mouths. 

DnA Approved!

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