Knife + Fork (Tasting menu), August 18, 2007

Knife + Fork

We (Danna, Sue Anne, Doug, Anna Lynn - SA's sister and James) were going to have dinner at Cookshop but ended up at Knife + Fork as a matter of getting a better reservation time. It would turn out that we didn't need a reservation at all, being that the restaurant was empty, on a Saturday night in the middle of August, with the exception of two people at the bar and a four-top seated behind our combined tables in the middle of the restaurant.

Let me start by saying that this might be one of the most underrated restaurants in Manhattan. That's not to say that this place doesn't have its faults (it does) but its hard not to love. Decent to very good food, charming atmosphere (I loved the vibe and room as a whole), great service (well, when you are the only ones there, I suppose you better - but our waitress was great) and how can you beat the price (answer: only one way...go to Brooklyn).
It's just that the buzz is minimal, and I'm not sure it doesn't deserve more.

I can't remember every single component of the dishes we had, but I'll give as much of an account as I can.

Torchon and beans

The torchon of foie gras was probably the poorest version I've ever had. It just wasn't as expertly prepared as I've had it in the past. Consistency and taste was slightly off. Now, I've had exquisite versions this year, and this just didn't shine. Was it passable? Sure. The beans, however, just weren't my thing. Loaded with truffle oil (ugh, please, no more of this stuff chefs), and undercooked = not so good.

We all enjoyed their bread though. The salt and butter (would have been nicer if it was more room temp) was served on slate and acted their part.

Tuna Ceviche

Not really sure if this was called a ceviche or not, but the tomato broth it sat in was remarkable. It was so fragrant and delicious that it would keep me on a tomato kick for the next two weeks or so. A terrific use of seasonal ingredients. Nice piece of fish as well. Microgreens found there way in many dishes, starting with this one. Didn't add much except for color, but I guess that works. Solid course.

Mussels and roasted red peppers

I wish remembered the rest of this dish. If anyone knows, feel free to post it in the comments. This was an interesting dish - possibly the most unique in both presentation and flavor combinations. I liked it.
Sea Bass with wild mushroom risotto

Solid dish. One thing that this place lacks is consistency in the presentation of dishes. In most cases, because I was taking pictures of the food, I got the prettier pieces/platings. This was the exception. Others certainly had nicer cuts, but it didn't effect the flavor. Solid flavors and texture throughout...and there's the microgreens again.

Lavender rubbed Duck with spring onion (?) confit and smoked lentils

Again, I'm not sure of the names of these dishes, but its what I remember. I definitely got the nicest cut of duck, but hot damn would you look at this piece. The layer of fat is remarkable (and delicious). Well-cooked, pleasantly presented and very tasty. The bacon-enhanced lentils were a thing of beauty. One of the best things I ate all night. The onion was also a nice surprise in its simplicity. More microgreens...

Since there was no one in the restaurant (and I mean no one at this point), we were given all of the desserts they'd prepared for the night. This included creme brulee (very good), a panna cotta that was PERFECT (among the best I've had) and a selection of cheeses (roquefort, tomme de savoie, morbier and a goats milk cheese that's name escapes me (good though)).
Overall I really like this place. All of this for about $45 a head is as good a bargain as you are likely to see. How can you not try it? What are you waiting for. But don't expect the best meal of your life. Instead, go thinking that this is a great place to take your parents, or a place to meet the inlaws, or maybe for your third date.


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