A few nights ago I had dinner at Highpoint Bistro & Bar with a friend since we’re in the neighborhood and it was a drizzly evening. We were greeted warmly by our waiter, Michael and was immediately seated.
For drinks, we ordered blood orange old fashion ($12) topped with brandied cherries and a pomegranate martini ($12). The old fashioned was very delicious and balanced flavors with a nice kick from the Makers Mark. The dangerously good brandied cherries on top were too easy to snack on. The pomegranate martini (made with pearl vodka, pomegranate and lime) was fine and had a lovely shade of blush pink but it’s a touch too sweet for my cocktail preferences.
We started out with their soup of the day, a lobster bisque. It had good lobster flavor and not overwhelmingly creamy with a fair amount of lobster meat and crisp, brown buttered croutons.
Their warm, housemade naan flavored with onions, poppy seeds, sesame and a few other herbs and was served with a side of hummus. The presentation with the miniature shopping cart is endearing.
Eventually, Executive Chef Steve Permaul walked up to our table and talked to us for a few minutes before the dinner rush really kicked in. He previous position before this was a consulting chef for David Burke Kitchen (Burke’s recent restaurant in the James Hotel in SoHo). He worked with Chef David Burke as his sous chef nearly two decades ago when Park Avenue Café existed. Chef Permaul eventually accepted this position about three and a half months ago, as the former chef wanted to seek other projects.
Given that Permaul worked with Burke for so long, there’s an expectation of creativity with his food.
The crispy jumbo lump crab cake ($14) is easily described as a latke-encrusted crab cake. The palm-sized (about 2-inch tall) crab cake was wonderfully crisp and fluffy with all the crab meat filled inside. When you do look inside the crispy jumbo lump crab cake’s cross section (link), it’s definitely filled with a plethora of sweet crab meat. The use of vibrant basil and mustard oils with the creamy, grainy Pommery mustard brought everything together without overwhelming the delicate sweet crab flavor.
The day boat scallops ($15) sat on a ring of caramelized pineapple and ginger and topped with arugula and pan seared prosciutto. This particular dish definitely appealed to my dining companion since pineapple and ginger is a favorite flavor profile. The scallops were very fresh and had an ethereal ocean-like flavor. If eaten all together, this was a great dish. Sweet, salty, slightly fruity and the ginger accent worked wonderfully. The appetizers were the strongest dishes of the evening and the generous portion sizes almost err to a main course.
The main course of Flat Iron steak & lobster ($26) topped with fingerling potatoes, diced lobster and pommery mustard sauce under a bed of asparagus was good. The steak was cooked to a medium-rare and the creamy, lobster dotted mustard sauce worked well.
The pan seared striped bass ($26) was served with melted fennel, tomato, pernod, and shellfish vinaigrette. The latter was more broth-like, as it was poured tableside and had good seafood flavor. The bass was cooked perfectly and the soft fennel brought in some added flavor of anise. I just wish it had a pinch more salt just to bring all the flavors of the dish together. Beyond that, I’m happy with this dish.
Since dessert is about to come out, I almost always need my cup of coffee. Their large French press pot of coffee ($7) uses a local NYC coffee roaster, Dallis Brothers Coffee‘s Unisphere Blend Light Roast beans. It’s the kind of coffee that you’d drink throughout the day after the morning cup of coffee. Light with tones of caramel and plums.
Speaking of caramel, for dessert, we opted for the Caramel Experiment for two ($12). It’s a play on fondue except it’s about caramel rather than cheese or chocolate. The caramel portion does come out in a small copper pot of just made caramel and poured on a slab of pink Himalayan salt, a small glass mug and its surrounding area. The platter is filled with pretzel sticks, green apples, a variety of fresh berries, glazed pecans, small cupcakes topped with milk chocolate, and biscotti. This dessert is simply fun to dip things into the caramel or chocolate ganache. I found the caramel terribly addictive especially when I kept scraping my spoon on the salt slab with the caramel.
We also had the Crème Brûlée Egglings ($8) which were a cute presentation of crème brûlée just in smaller vessels like an egg and a small glass tumbler and served with a side of mixed berries with honey. They tasted good but nothing too exciting.
Overall, Highpoint Bistro and Bar is a solid neighborhood restaurant. It gives you a variety of options at an affordable price point with generous portions. The food and drinks were generally good and with some creativity and there’s good energy and vibe to have a casual meal from solo to a few friends.
To view more photos of my dinner, please click through the slideshow (or view my Flickr set):
216 7th Avenue (near W 22nd & 23rd St)
New York, NY 10011