Restaurant Week at 10 Downing

Last Friday I visited 10 Downing for restaurant week and the only words that accurately describes my dining experience are – grave disappointment.

I’d been patiently waiting for 10 Downing to get their feet wet after numerous bad reviews from early restaurant go-ers. I figured that they just needed a little time to adjust to us snobbish foodies looking for the next hot spot. Unfortunately, that was not the case.

Ironically, I was convinced that I’d gotten one of the best reservations restaurant week had to offer. I had a 9pm reservation for two on a Friday night. I’d been optimistic after hearing rave reviews from friends, but then again they ordered the small plates. Either way,  I figured my friend Justin and I were in for a treat.

Justin and I decided to share everything we ordered. We decided on the Winter Lettuce Salad and Veal & Bacon Terrine for appetizers. And before they arrived we had received an interesting Amuse Bouche of carrot soup. Though it wouldn’t be my first choice for a palette cleanser, it was mildly refreshing. Soon after we were served our appetizers. I enjoyed the winter lettuce salad which incorporated a healthy mix of greens and grapefruit. The terrine on the other hand was not my thing. Although I appreciated the plating and multiple elements of the dish it was a bit bland and incongruous. The arugula and the date puree just didn’t come together with the terrine for me.

10 Downing Bacon & Veal Terrine

Carrot Soup

For our main courses we ordered the olive oil poached sea bass and the Painted Hills Farms beef short ribs. Neither were flavorful or satisfying. Both portions were unusually small and apparently this is the case all year round (not just during restaurant week). The sea bass was cooked well but was lacking in flavor. And the short ribs were very dry and the smoked potato, apple, and pomegranate slaw was just a sad pairing. The must was reminiscent of baby food.

Beef Short Ribs

10 Downing Wild Bass

The food is likely no better now than it ever was and given their minuscule portions a small snack would be more satisfying. Luckily the cocoa nib pannacotta gave the meal somewhat of  a happy ending with its salty sweet creamy crunch. The varying textures of the chocolate and panna cotta gave the dessert great depth!

Unfortunately they were out of their other Butterscotch Pot de Creme dessert and apparently this isn’t anything unusual since Blondie and Brownie had the same experience. So our meal ended a bit on a sour note with one less dessert and slight hunger pains but we enjoyed the decor. As for everything else, not so much.

Cocoa Nib Panna Cotta

Cheeseburger

10 Downing

10 Downing St (at 6th Avenue)

From Market to Table

Market TableSaturday night my family took me to a belated birthday dinner at  Market Table. This charming West Village spot was spawned by Little Owl’s Joey Campanaro and Gabriel Stulman. Though I’ve yet to try the infamous Little Owl, reservations are hard to come by, which is how we ended up at Market Table. I’d passed by Market Table many times upon visiting my favorite dog store, Zoomies, and just knew it’d be a great place to celebrate with my family.

Market Table’s decor is truly wonderful and incredibly inviting to passersby, which I’m sure is how a lot of people stumble upon it. Its walls lined with wine bottles and chalkboards which are illuminated by candlelit butcher-block tables giving it a subtle rustic touch. And the  simplicity and richness of the decor is also reflected in Market Table’s menu.

Though the menu is somewhat limited, they cover my four main dinner food groups: salad, fish, chicken, & steak. Usually this wouldn’t be a concern, but when dining out with MY family, everything needs to be plain and easily customizable. My one big disappointment with the menu was that they were no longer offering the hamburger at dinner. I had specifically called ahead to check if it was being served and was told the chef would make it if they weren’t too busy. Unfortunately their phenomenal hamburger (or so I’m told) will never be served at dinner again. I guess I’ll have to return for brunch.

Based upon a friend’s recommendation, we began our meal with the arugula & strawberry salad and the crispy calamari which were both excellent. The arugula was served stem-on which isn’t very common but gave the salad a nice crunch which made it fun to eat. The arugula was served with strawberries and toasted almonds which were balanced out nicely with the interestingly tangy balsamic vinaigrette, giving it a nice bite. The calamari had a nice and light crispy crust and was accompanied by a slightly spicy guacamole which complimented the calamari very well.

Arugula & Strawberry Salad

arugula & strawberry salad, ricotta salata, toasted almonds, balsamic

crispy calamari

crispy calamari, guacamole, chili crema, cilantro

For our main courses I decided on the Artic Char since I couldn’t have the hamburger.  As expected, my mother and grandmother ordered the pan roasted chicken which happened to be the dish I favored most. My father ordered the hanger steak and my sister ordered the beef carpaccio appetizer.

pan roasted chicken breast, braised thigh, spring onion mash, creminis

pan roasted chicken breast, braised thigh, spring onion mash, creminis

beef carpaccio, “french fry salad”, parmesan, peppercress, dijon

beef carpaccio, “french fry salad”, parmesan, peppercress, dijon

Sangria Marinated Hangar Steak, grilled romaine ala caesar, burst tomatoes

Sangria Marinated Hangar Steak, grilled romaine ala caesar, burst tomatoes

Grilled Arctic Char, creamed leeks, shiitake, crispy onions, balsamic

Grilled Arctic Char, creamed leeks, shiitake, crispy onions, balsamic

Grilled Asparagus, pecorino, egg yolk

Grilled Asparagus, pecorino, egg yolk

All of the dishes on the menu were presented beautifully and looked as if they were literally brought from the market to our table. I must admit that the dishes weren’t as flavorful as I would have liked, with the pan roasted chicken and beef carpaccio as the exceptions. Though my artic char appeared very tasty, it was undercooked and quite petit. Market Table snuck in a heafty portobello underneath the fish to add more meat to the dish but in all honestly, I was left hungry and would have prefered a few more ounces of artic char.

We decided to skip dessert and head over to the overpriced GROM for some gelato, though I would still like to try Market Table’s pistachio-cherry bread pudding with caramel, mascarpone gelato.

So you’re probably wondering, will there be a next time? Well, I’m not sure. If you’re looking for an adorable restaurant with simple, good food and don’t mind spending $40/pp (or more), sure it’s worth a try. But if you’re looking for somewhere a little more lively and you happen to really enjoy pork visit Cabrito, two doors down.

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:

  • Make a Reservation one month in advance and ask for the main dining room
  • Salads are big enough to share
  • Specify how you want your fish cooked
  • Don’t order the Artic Char
  • Try the scallops, they looked divine!
  • Don’t expect a hamburger during dinner