Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Armonk and the "Big Apple"

Steve Mancini, an alumni of USHG( Union Square Hospitality Group) and partners have open a new restaurant in Armonk NY, suburban NYC. "North" 386 Main St. Armonk NY 10504 (914)-273-8686 is the new "hot spot" in this area. it is fairly small with a bar and tables on the first floor( very noisy), swinging, and a somewhat quieter, but still active, dinning area on the second.
Reservations are taken 30 days in advance and are a necessity.
Five us ventured from Mamarineck to Armonk on Friday Oct 22 to try out this, slightly connected, Danny Meyer outpost, in a small strip mall on a quiet downtown suburban street.
The parking lot was full as was the restaurant when we arrived for our 6:30 seating.
We found the food "upscale" and fully priced, while the service was pleasant, attentive but at times slow. They are in their third month of operation and still have a few kinks to smooth out.
The table started with a bottle of Cinquante Viognier, as the other couple, cousins, enjoy white over red. I followed with a mixed beet salad, red, golden and purple all sliced or cubed and placed on a base of goat cheese and shredded greens. Next came both Mussel Flat bread, excellent with plenty of whole fresh mussels prepared in a slightly spicy butter sauce and then grilled and an accompanying mushroom flat bread, same preparation but in a much milder butter sauce.
My main course was a brazed short rib( I miss the "bone in", an attempt at easier handling by the guest) which was surrounded by a smattering of vegetables, also brazed. I found it tasty but slightly stringy. Others had Tuna Tartare, Orrechiette, Swordfish and Scallops for their maim courses.
Our Granddaughter and my cousin lead us to the outstanding desserts: "Chocolate Chip Skillet", with Vanilla Ice Cream, Fig Tart and a Brownie Skillet with Chocolate Ice Cream( have some chocolate). The skillets come to the table HOT with the dough that has been cooked therein steaming. Obviously the Ice Cream doesn't stay firm long.
Our meal ended with a small bottle of Ice Wine, from Long Island, a gift from Steve, who had been the wine director at both "Maialino" and "Union Square Cafe"more on both of those in a future posting. Too much food but a terrific show of this new places ability.

Into the city and Saturday night at "Sandro's" 306 East 81st St (212-288-7374). Marilyn had found a squib in a magazine recommending this place as Mimi Sheridan's favorite neighborhood Italian spot. She was not mistaken. That night there were 4 of us; Granddaughter, who had been with us since Boston, and our hostess for the 4 nights we spent in the city.
"Sandro's" is an expensive, small, bustling neighborhood establishment with very few tourists and a center aisle hardly large enough to accommodate the Huge Chef, owner. He rules the roost
The clientele seems to stretch from business to "mob" but all are welcome and treated as guests.
From the 15 to 20 "specials", ( they present a printed menu) we all chose our dinner.
We started with a Montpulician( rich red Barbera) after which came a beautiful platter of fresh tomato crostini's, compliments of the Chef and a small bowel of spicy peppers also with his compliments.
Two each divided a first course, Marilyn and GD a Tropea Salad( tomato's, cucumbers , peppers and cheese) while I, and our other guest, had a delicious Polpo( Grilled Octopus and firm potato's marinated in oil and spices). I was the only carnivore ordering a perfectly grilled, bone in, veal chop, which was absolutely delicious. The other three each chose "house made" Pastas which floated off the plate. One each, Pennette( butter and cheese), Fettucine( Bolognese) and Papardelle( a ragu of wild boar), the later the most interesting to me, as I sampled all, everyone excellent.
At this point, as plates were being cleared the Chef commanded that we be served "Grapa".
To rerun his favor we ordered Fragole Balsamic, a vanilla Gelato covered with fresh berries and a Balsamic reduction. Wow.

The next evening, after our Granddaughter returned to school in Maine, an arduous journey that took all day Sunday, the three of us again went for dinner in the neighborhood. I have written, previously, about "Atlantic Grill" 1341 3rd Ave (212) 988-9200. this upscale seafood chain has never disappointed us with there good food, service and location, for us, when we're in the city.
Having stuffed myself on the two previous nights I tried to show some restraint. After the Bombay I chose three first courses; a wonderful and interesting Cauliflower soup, with pear croutons, A pear, nut and greens salad and a single crab cake, full of white lump-fin crab meat. The two women shared a Chinese Dumpling appetizer and followed with a grilled snapper, for one and the crab cake(2) dinner, for the other
This left room for one large piece of Molten Chocolate Cake with three forks. A walk home on a beautiful Indian Summer evening competed our first two nights "eating out".

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