Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Dinner at Hearth

My birthday adventure to Florida was delayed a day due to snow that never arrived - per usual the weather in February is just unpredictable.

Michael made the day absolutely fabulous by taking me to brunch at craftbar (we shared: white anchovy bruschetta, pork scrapple with eggs, and biscuits with sausage gravy) and dinner somewhere new (to us) - Hearth. Not only is Hearth a James Beard award winning restaurant, but the executive chef's mentor is Tom Colicchio. Chef Marco Canora worked at both Grammercy Tavern and craft - two of our favorites.

When we arrived they asked if we would like to sit in the pass. They have 4 counter seats at the pass which all look right in to the open kitchen. Of course we said yes! It was really cool, we were able to watch all of the prep and cooking and our server let us know who was working on our food. It was really a treat seeing our food being prepared.

We opted for the 7-course tasting menu. The server asked our preferences and from there the chef decided what we were going to eat.

We started with an escarole salad with red onion, Pecorino Romano cheese, walnuts, pear slices, and a light vinaigrette. The salad was crisp and refreshing and all of the different textures gave the dish a nice crunch.

Course #2 was a delicious octopus appetizer. The octopus was grilled and then plated with some potato, celery, and smoked black olives. The octopus was tender and delicious, with a slight char from the grill. The smoked black olives were just the right amount of salty to pair perfectly with the vegetables.

Course #3 was cacciucco (sort of a fish stew or ciappino). The fish station was directly in front of us and we saw the entire course being cooked and plated. The dish had prawns, mussels, Sheepshead bass and clams in a thin tomato broth. The seafood was cooked perfectly and everything tasted like it had just come out of the ocean, briny and delicate.

Course #4 canestri pasta. A home made pasta noodle that was kind of tube shape similar to rigatoni. The pasta noodles were in a tomato based sauce with cauliflower and cabbage and topped with Pecorino cheese an crispy bread crumbs. The dish was amazing but bite after bite it became very salty. Luckily it was a pretty small portion.

Course #5 was a braised pork shank. The meat was literally falling off the bone. It was sitting on top of some creamy polenta and some kind of broccoli - maybe broccoli rabe. We were pretty much stuffed at this point but it was out of this world tasty and neither one of us could stop eating. The meat chef looked up at us after we were served and we made sure to let her know we loved the dish. The braised pork shank is usually not part of the tasting menu, but because it was my birthday they did something special.

Finally the pastry chef provided some relief to our palettes with a bit of grapefruit granita served with a tiny dallop of Greek yogurt. The granita was light and refreshing, perfect after the rich braised pork.

And dessert was awesome. The pastry chef prepared a special plate just for me:

We had warm glazed apple cider doughnuts with apple compote and maple cream on the side.

About 30 seconds after my plate was set down in front of me it looked like this:

A fabulous meal planned at the last minute is just one of the reasons I love living in NYC!