May 1, 2015
My friend Nancy blew into town yesterday, raving about the food she ate in Israel. In her words, "every meal was jump up and down delicious." I've never heard her so excited.
It seemed like the perfect time for a trip to Bar Bolonat.
I loved the fluke ceviche too, a tangle of flavors that went swirling through my mouth. The fish was smooth and plump, the green strawberries added an acid note, the pistachios a frizz of nuttiness.
Eggplant: how did they coax such sweetness out of the vegetable? Each little length of eggplant was a soft, sweet pillow.
These ravioli are filled with eggplant in an entirely different mood: smokey and mysterious, it's the yang to the other's yin. These two dishes confirm that eggplant truly is the chameleon of the vegetable world.
But my favorite dish was this Yemenite shrimp curry, perfumed with coconut and accompanied by a sexy little round of malawah, the seductive Yemeni bread.
Bar Bolonat is dark, casual and clamorous. Lunch the next day could not have offered a greater contrast. To me Jean Georges is the loveliest place to lunch in New York, a calm airy light-filled oasis that is just loud enough to feel lively while allowing you the luxury of quiet conversation. I can't think of anywhere I'd rather be. Especially when lunch starts with this caviar confection.
Potatoes. Tapioca. Chives. And mounds of caviar. Pure, irresistible luxury.
We also had one of my favorite dishes, which has been on the restaurant's menu since day one. Take a bite and you understand why. Caramelized cauliflower. Scallop. Caper-raisin emulsion. Heaven.
The meal stretched on, each dish an essay on the power of great cuisine when you're in a restaurant run by a talented chef at the top of his game. At $48 for a prix fixe lunch that ends with tiny macaroons, a plate of chocolates and hand-made marshmallows, it's hard to think of a more effective way to feel happy, pampered, special.
But of everything I ate in this twenty-four hour odyssey of eating, this dish was my favorite.
And it's at my favorite new restaurant. Upland is the perfect New York place of the moment. Urban. Lively. Relaxed. Casual. And the food is fantastic. The razor clams were topped with new green almonds (served as I've never had them before, sliced horizontally, fuzzy shell and all), green onions and lemon. In my opinion the long lithe clams have never tasted so delicious.
We also had this impressive construction of burrata, cured tuna and blood oranges. The ingredients played beautifully together, creating wonderful harmonies in the mouth.
Then there was this mushroom, which was like nothing I've had before. This ziggurat of hen of the woods mushrooms resembled a sculpture more than a food. It had been crisped, then plonked onto a bed of cloumage, a simple, creamy curd of a cheese. I found myself dreamily pulling off one little section after another, mesmerized by the texture.
These quail, with their cool bits of onion and green strawberries were also a joy to pick up and eat with your fingers. A fine end to a truly impressive meal.
Three restaurants. Three moods. Three different ways to enjoy spring in the city.
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