Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Restaurant: Graffiti

First off, I must admit, I have been looking forward to eating at this restaurant ever since it opened right across the street from me. It's cozy, seating less than 20 people and a feel of what a living room would look like if we all had incredible taste and Indian backgrounds. A large Buddha, framed Indian imagery, chandeliers, exposed brick, candlelight, it all adds to the atmosphere of a cozy place. Not to mention the awesome "starter" chopsticks with animals on the top (please, someone tell me where I buy these?). The chef himself will often welcome you, and clearly wants to make the place accessible to the neighborhood and not some stuck up wine and food bar that only the foodies go to. I came in with a bag of apples from my parents garden, and by the end of the night he was offering to make something with them if I brought him a bag tomorrow. Oh, and did I mention the chef is a former pastry chef from some brand names like Jean Georges and Union Pacific? So yeah, you know he's got the skills, but what about the food? It's split into shareable plates of varying price ranging from $7 to $15. The chef recommended 5-6 plates for 2 people, but knowing his specialty we decided on 4 plates, and 2 desserts. Everything on the small, but diverse wine list is $8 a glass or $25 a bottle, so we went with a 2003 Malbec from Argentina. To start we had a watermelon and feta salad with mint sorbet. The flavor combination was amazing, combing the icy cool freshness of the mint sorbet with the sweetness of the watermelon and the saltiness and crumbly texture of the feta. It was probably my favorite dish, but I would recommend asking for it after ordering one of the heavier dishes, it's a great way to cool and refresh the palate. Main dishes included an Asian crab roll with cucumber and pickled onion confit which was also light and extremely tasty. Another favorite of mine was the chili pork dumplings, with our chef explained "candied grapefruit and semolina crunchies". I know, this sounds odd, but the combination of spicy, very sweet and crunchy had my dining companion and me fighting over the last dumpling, and only coming to a deal after I offered her an extra piece of scallop. Oh yes, the seared diver scallops with pickled ginger, candied chili's and an herb bread. Great texture, the bread was delicious and could have been eaten on it's own, but the three combined made for a taste where I didn't quite know what was in my mouth, by my taste buds were thanking me.

If you can't tell by now I was very happy with my meal, and there were about another 10 dishes I wanted to try, but will have to wait till next time. In the meantime, how about what this chef is known for, his desserts. Of the three, we tried two, the coffee chocolate steamed bun with peanut butter ice cream, and the stoned fruit bruschetta with black pepper ice cream. Personally I LOVED the chocolate steamed bun, to the point where I had to ask for silence after my first bite to really get its full affect. My friend liked the fruit bruschetta better, and it was more like a cobbler, but with less sweet topping. My dessert oozed dark chocolate with a soft chewy bun, as the peanut butter ice cream was absorbed into the bun and mixed with the chocolate making each bite like a luxurious Reese's peanut butter cup, but on steroids. The fruit bruschetta, despite being heavy on dates, was sweet and rich, with the black pepper ice cream adding a spicy coolness that balanced the sweetness of the fruit.

To say I enjoyed this dining experience is an understatement, and to say that this place is too fancy for your average person is also an understatement. Your taste buds will thank you, and you will walk out with a smile because it's like you just ate at home. I personally will be back this week, and hopefully will see what kind of creation the chef has come up with from the apples. One tip, if you plan on going, you will probably have to wait given the size. Personally, I would try to go during the week, and go early, they open at 5:30. I showed up at 7 and got a table right away, but it was rainy. By 8:30 it was full, and people were waiting, on a Wednesday. You do the math for a weekend.

Legal Delicious Graffiti


ob1knobe said...

Sounds delicious!!! East Village foodie? Nice to have you in the neighborhood.

-4th Street Girl

s.j.simon said...

lol. did you know that chocolate was banned in switzerland for many years. read this