Labor day came around very quickly this year. I am not really prepared for September's political onslaught - although thrilled for the emergence of fall. Since I know September will be a brutal month, I try to have a relaxing sun and food filled Labor Day weekend.
One of my girlfriends from college escaped New York and returned to visit those of us who never left. This friend grew up in northern-ish Jersey and always dreamed of moving to The City (for me "the city" means San Francisco and i somewhat resent that everyone on the east coast has conceded that NYC is the end all be all of cities. Whenever i visit the city the girls take me out to nice restaurants that they claim I will love because (flip wrist in that faux disdain sort of way) I live in DC where there couldn't possibly be restaurants that can rival those in the city. So when the girls return to DC it is the perfect excuse for me to take them out to a splurge restaurant and remind them the district can absolutely rival the city.
Black Salt has been on my list for years now. It moved into the neighborhood I lived in during college but it was quite out of my price range at the time. An employer of mine a few years ago suggested that we go for Restaurant Week (since she employed me and clearly knew I couldn't afford it on my meager salary) but getting a reservation on a normal Saturday was hard enough let alone get a RW res (and this year they did not participate). I'm pretty sure the only reason I could get a good reservation was because it was empty in DC during the holiday weekend ... so thank you all for leaving (even if you were defecting to the city)!
The city girl was blown away. We originally planned to have the three course tasting menu and a bottle of wine.... The price for the tasting menus is about $10 more than the website reports, but still a great deal. As we perused through the menu, we ended up deciding to order al la carte. (Click here for dinner menu... it changes all the time)
I choose a relatively inexpensive ($37) bottle of Pino Noir from Burgundy from their fairly varied list which was delightful... especially after a glass of champagne. We shared the Thai Muscles and the Heirloom Tomato Salad. These two dishes didn't actually go together so well but both were incredible. Three tomatoes, red, yellow and orange, were incredibly fresh and sweet. I really couldn't resist in-season tomatoes even if they were not seafood oriented. The Thai Muscles came next. Quite spicy... try to add a shallot to each bite of meat. I choose the Bouillabaisse and I (heart) NYC ordered the Bangkok Seafood Stew. Her meal was assorted seafood in a coconut thai style broth over udon style noodles. It matched the Thai Muscles perfectly. My dish, the Bouillabaisse, needed a bit more seasoning but everything was cooked to perfection... the scallops being the absolute highlight.
Desert could have easily sent me over the edge. After the meal, there was very little reason to continue eating except that we spied a neighboring table devouring a creme brulee dish which I had to have. It was a trio of creme brulee ... Chocolate hazelnut with a piece of chocolate on top, coffee with a truffle and this hardened sugar contraption ... and vanilla-mandarin orange topped with a fresh mandarin orange. I have started to salivate and get hungry just thinking about this desert ... and its 10am two days later. Definitely save room for desert.
In short... suck it NYC... I've eaten better here in my city than I do in the city. **
** With the exception of Cafe Habana in Soho ... best cojhita and chipolte grilled corn in the world.