NYC’s summer restaurant week is upon us. Sometimes, though, it feels like it’s always restaurant week in this city. What a magical food town it is.
For $38 participating restaurants offer a 3 course prix-fixe menu which can either be a deal or a rip off. The key is choosing a place that’s well renowned, typically on the pricey side and one that is offering dishes that illustrate the best they have to offer, prix-fixe or no. THIS can be hard to find.
During winter restaurant week last year Nick and I used my previously mentioned system and decided to dine at Alex Guarnaschelli’s sinfully named restaurant, Butter. It was a good choice.
Although we dined at Butter some months back their prix-fixe menu for the next few weeks is extremely similar to the one we enjoyed and certain dishes were so good that they seem fresh in my mind.
I don’t usually begin reviews with clothing recommendations (I’m certainly not one to talk) but Butter is a classy joint. The ground floor has high arched ceilings, lovely lighting and the night we visited there were plenty of well-dressed folks to be found. We dined on the lower level which almost had a hunting lodge feel but was still nicely decorated and filled with plenty more well-dressed individuals. I was glad I up for the occasion.
We had cocktails on the way to dinner so we dove right into the wine list upon arrival. We considered skipping wine altogether and getting the most out of our restaurant week deal but caved and ordered a bottle of the least expensive wine on the menu. Our waitress was very knowledgeable and while discussing our wine preferences she recommended another bottle that was a bit pricier but in the end we enjoyed it. Be warned, there are no inexpensive bottles on the menu.
All of the portions at Butter were generous which we realized as soon as the appetizers arrived. Get the charcuterie platter if you’re a chicken liver junkie like me. The current menu features chicken liver mousse, veal bacon and a pate. We had the mousse, bacon and mortadella. The mousse was mind blowing. I highly recommend it.
We also got an octopus and potato appetizer that they aren’t offering on the prix-fixe this time around (you can still order it off their regular menu though). It was fantastic. The octopus was charred to perfection but still tender. There was a delicious aoli and the potatoes added a hearty aspect. This week they’ve got a mussel dish with smoked trout that I think would be a good choice.
For our mains we ordered the beef short ribs and the fish of the day. Both of which they’re offering on the current restaurant week menu.
The short ribs were rich, tender and delicious. I make a damn fine short rib so it’s not a dish I often rave about but the preparation on this was lovely. They’re serving it over lentils this time around but on our dish it was served with a mash and greens.
The fish was lovely, delicate, topped with a nicely acidic slaw and well executed lentils. The lentils are being served with the short ribs this time around and although I don’t often recommend ordering a dish because of something like a side of lentils they were so well cooked that you might want to consider it.
If you have a sweet tooth it might be reason alone to visit Butter. The desserts were sinful. We had a towering layer cake with caramel and pomegranate seeds as well as THE best ice cream sandwich I’ve ever eaten. It was rolled in candied pecans for goodness sake! They’re currently featuring an ice cream cake with candied almonds that sounds almost as good.
The service was very good except for a few small hiccups. The courses were timed perfectly. The ambiance is some kind of romantic both on the upper and lower levels. The upper level is more classically elegant while the lower level is darker and more interesting. It would be a great date night or special occasion destination. As I said earlier, it’s a pretty classy joint so clean up a bit. Also, if you aren’t visiting during restaurant week be prepared for a pricey tab. They take reservations so make them.