NYC Restaurant Week Winter 2011

Well it’s been two weeks since my trip to New York. . . shall we talk about it?

Lucky me, a trip to see my best friend coincided with Winter Restaurant Week. We didn’t even plan it that way originally, but it worked out beautifully. After scouring the NYC restaurant week menus online for vegetarian options, we decided on Savore, a little Italian restaurant in SoHo. Melissa and I wanted to try somewhere we probably never would have ventured into otherwise, and Savore sounded delightful. We were joined my Melissa’s cousin Becky, who was also visiting the city for the weekend.

We started with a bottle of the Tomaiolo Chianti Classico Reserva 2005.

It was a nice house chianti that warmed us up and helped us ease into the bread course, which was served with a tasty white bean puree. See, we had really been looking forward to a glass of wine and we needed the warming up, because despite having a reservation, we waited thirty minutes in a blustery doorway for our table to be ready. This place was packed on a Friday night. We stood in the entryway as bus boys brought chairs in from outside (?) and filled them in around the already jam-packed tables. We were finally seated at a table in the front window, crammed between a frozen pane of glass and a table of two diners who probably would have preferred a little more privacy. But I thought, hey, it’s a family Italian restaurant. You can expect a little closeness, and the more the merrier, right?

We ordered from a three course prix-fixe menu and quickly settled into our cozy surroundings. After all, the wait and the awkward seating arrangement no longer mattered; we were just happy to catch up with friends as we waited for the appetizers to arrive.

Melissa ordered the mussels.

The portion was huge, and we were thinking there was no way we would be able to handle three courses of this size. Unfortunately, only half the mussels were properly cooked and the rest came out raw. Big bummer, but at least Melissa still had room for her entree. I, on the other hand, devoured almost every bite of my appetizer, “Belga,” shredded endive with pears, walnuts and gorgonzola, dressed in balsamic vinegar.

Soon after I cleaned my plate, the very attentive waitress refilled our glasses of wine and returned with the main course. Melissa had filet of salmon with fresh tomato and asparagus, sauteed with prosecco.

Becky had the taglioini with shrimp and fresh tomato.

I had the triangoli, filled with squash and tossed in a light truffle puree with green peas.

The squash filling and the sauce were great, but the pasta was underdone and almost impossible to eat. I felt like I was swallowing rocks with each not-quite-al-dente bite. I thought for sure that an Italian restaurant in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood would deliver a delicious fresh pasta, but it turned out to be chewy and tough. I don’t know if it was because it was a busy night or what, but I was pretty disappointed. The conversation flowed anyway and we had a really great time, telling funny stories and reminiscing about past adventures, so I just sucked it up and enjoyed my pasta filling and truffle sauce.

Thankfully, Savore turned it around with dessert. I had the chocolate bread pudding in a chocolate-strawberry sauce. It was divine.

Melissa and Becky both ordered the tiramisu, which did not disappoint.

To top it all off, the maitre d’ came over to apologize for the long wait, and he brought us a collection of complementary drinks. We had limoncello and two dessert wines, and we thought it was a very nice gesture given the rough start to the meal. We sipped and laughed until we had not a drop to drink left, and then tried to motion to a waiter for the check. By this time the dinner rush had died down quite a bit, and there wasn’t a waiter in sight. It took us 20 minutes to flag someone down, which was quite an ordeal.

While Savore tried to redeem itself with a sincere apology and a strong drink, sadly it failed. Luckily we had a fantastic time in spite of the mediocre service and food. That just goes to show you the influence that delightful dining companions can have on your meal.

So as not to end on a sour note, I do have good news to share. While I was so excited to experience NYC restaurant week at Savore, the star meal of the weekend was at a dark and sophisticated Korean restaurant that we wandered into the next night, at the end of a long stroll through SoHo and TriBeCa. Kori delivered superb service and fantastic food. This might have been the best kimchi I have ever tasted.

And a mean soju cocktail! Witness a lovely new take on the traditional mojito.

The photo of the tofu bibimbap is even darker than these and not worth posting, so you’ll have to visit Kori and see it for yourself. Hopefully you will be pleasantly surprised, like me. Funny how these things work out, isn’t it?

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