Located in the meat packing district at 403 W. 13th St (off 9th Ave), Spice Market is still a very popular destination. Chef Jean Georges Vongerichten has described the cuisine as "Asian street food" albeit with his own unique touches. You'll find standards and unusual items on the menu, and the restaurant itself,with an exotic Asian theme, is beautiful. An expansive space, dimly lit, with an upscale hipster crowd as well as plenty of well-heeled tourists and business folk. Old foodie friend, Steve, and I both started with a Cava Brut. In addition to the Rest Week menu we ordered Black Pepper Shrimp with sun-dried pineapple - well-seasoned and succulent. For apps, Steve got the Mushroom Congee which he described as "soothing", and unusual in that it contained no rice, just minced mushroom. An earthy, thick, rich dish. I got the Chicken Coconut Soup, a Thai staple, it was a good sized bowl and not too heavy on the tamarind, which can easily overpower this dish.
My entree was Red Curried Duck, an ample portion in a ceramic bowl. This was very good and filling, full of flavor - nothing radical or spectacular, very solid and satisfying. My glass of Fireblock Grenache (Australia) stood up well to the curry and gamey duck. Steve got Crispy Salt and Pepper Skate with Thai Basil and Lime. Again, something you can find in many Asian restaurants, and done to perfection here. He ordered a Singha Beer to accompany this dish which was a good pick. Jean Georges himself stopped by our table as he did with others, and having the head guy himself stop by was a big check in the plus column. As a former bar owner, I feel the personal touch by the owner goes a long way with customers.
Dessert consisted of Tahitian Von Kulfi, a mousse with minted orange and salted pistachio. Much like the dessert I had at Del Posto only a more Asian version - this was very good, but Del Posto's was extraordinary. Steve got the Thai Jewels and Fruits with crushed coconut ice. He said many Thai restaurants offer this, and this was very good, especially the ice. As we left, Jean Georges thanked us for coming and I told him about our meal at Artisanal (remember the 3 gnocchi that I ranted about in Pt 1?) and he said, "Oh, thees is not good!" and we added that we mention it because we were quite happy with our portions at Spice Market.
This is a lovely, stylish place, good food and great atmosphere. A bit expensive, but a hot spot to impress a date!
GOTHAM BAR & GRILL
Despite only eating here once before, GB&G is one of my favorite restaurants in NYC, so I made it a point to come here for Restaurant Week. They only offered lunch, and my friend had to bail at the last minute, so I ate at the bar. This was fine, but a great meal is so much better when in good company. So this is brief since I didnt take many notes and had my nose in a book. I started with smoked salmon, with dill and chive emulsion which was delicious and light. I also ordered a white wine but I didnt note the brand, knucklehead that I am!
For the meal I again went with salmon, this being organic and prepared with meyer lemon confit, white wine and a green peppercorn sauce. The sauce was not overpowering and complimented the fish, which was cooked to perfection. If memory serves they also had a goat cheese ravioli that I was tempted to get. For dessert I went with the namesake Gotham Chocolate Cake with a passion fruit sauce. This was a real treat for a chocolate lover, rich and sweet. I wish I took more notes, perhaps I was experiencing restaurant week burnout? Nonetheless, to me this Restaurant Week(s) goes in the memory banks of my time living in NY as a great experience enjoyed with friends, and sampling some of the finest cooking this great city has to offer. I highly recommend that next Restaurant Week, you pick out at least 2 places that you’ve never been to and go with a good friend or two...or three.