Forget for a moment that Chef Jesse Schenker is a Gordon Ramsay alum. Forget too that Christina Lee is an ex- Per Se pastry chef de cuisine. Consider that their new Recette represents a potential new direction for West Village restaurants, with the quality of the food and drink trumping splashy build-outs and the pretensions of upscale dining. The food is terrific – the sous vide pork tenderloin with parmesan custard alone has been causing keyboard keys to be worn out with giddy excitement – but you would expect nothing less from a chef that has done time at Gordon Ramsay at the London and then in an about-face, trigger a late-night “private dining” room out of an East Harlem bakery.
The room (it’s the former Jarnac space on West 12th Street) is simple, cosy with dark wood floors, green walls and antique framed mirrors. Even the menu is short and to the point, with contemporary “American food with French technique” dishes in sharable plate sizes – from snacks, chartuterie and a catchall category of artisanal bread and cheese. The best dishes at Recette are thoughtful but unpretentious — simply put: good food. Wild arugula is served with a light twist of lemon, kumquats, mint, lemon and hazelnuts that round out the little plate but doesn’t overwhelm. The appeal with the Berkshire pork belly is the baby turnips, Romesco, Sherry caramel and the exactly right proportion of luscious to blushing rock shrimp. The Brandt beef strip is paired with simple sides of chestnut purée, onion ring, caramelized Brussels sprouts and you have an utterly satisfying meal.
Likewise, the black cod is given a shellfish demiglace. Cooked just a shade past medium, the fish has the full flavor, served with smoked bacon, savoy cabbage and chanterelles – the former a welcome contrast to the cod, the latter amplifying its sweetness – this is the menu’s most fully considered entrée.
Moving on to dessert-eria, Christina Lee doles out her own version of S’mores, with chocolate wafer-toasted-marshmallow-hot-chocolate sauce, and the roasted apple napoleon with caramel ice cream.
Address: 328 W 12th St, New York, NY 10014
Area: West Village
Hours: Dinner daily from 5:30 p.m
Price Range: $$$$ (Expensive)
Payment: Master Card, Visa, American Express
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