Narcissa has generated quite a bit of buzz on the Internet for the past few weeks when it opened its doors. Narcissa is a joint venture with restauranteur André Balazs and Michelin-starred chef John Fraser (of Dovetail) and most of their ingredients are sourced from Balazs’ Hudson Valley farm, Locusts on Hudson.
The menu is vegetable heavy. My friends and I are devoted omnivore-leaning carnivores and we liked Narcissa a lot. Fresh ingredients and it’s executed well. The restaurant is lovely with the warm blonde wood for the dining area with the open kitchen with counter seating and four-top tables around the rest of the area. The other side of the restaurant has a more intimate feel and it’s much quieter.
We started with glasses of Winter’s Kiss ($12), a delightful effervescent, fruity yet dry cocktail made of Champagne, cranberry juice, vermouth and Becherovka liqueur that would pair with our food nicely. We nibbled on a very good loaf of herb and salted sourdough bread.
The rotisserie-crisp beets with bulgur salad, apples, creamed horseradish ($12) has small, edible roasted leaf cups filled with diced earthy, sweet beets. I liked the tangy-spicy horseradish cream and the slightly nutty flavored bulgur salad.
The Dungess crab salad ($16) was a beautifully plated dish that was bright and acidic from the juicy blood orange. The crunchiness of the hearts of palm and hazelnuts added some nuttiness and texture to the sweet meat of the crab.
Our favorite appetizer though was the poached farm egg with forest mushrooms, quinoa, chayote ($14). The luscious egg yolk mixed with the mushroom ragout and the earthy nuttiness of the quinoa and subtle crunch of the chayote balanced out the texture. The leaves of arugula added some pleasant, fresh bitterness to bring this dish to life.
The potato gnocchi, swiss chard, chestnuts, sage ($14; $24 for main course size) was tasty. The gnocchi was textbook light with just enough chew. The swiss chard, chestnuts, and sage reflected the winter flavors well and worked wonderfully with the gnocchi.
Progressing to our main courses, we had a trio of meat-centered dishes with a side of carrot fries ($7). The latter is pushed by our server and we actually liked it. The creamy, not too spicy jalapeño-tofu dip worked nicely with the delicately crisp and mildly sweet carrot fries. For the tofu haters, you won’t even taste the tofu since the jalapeño heat takes over the flavor.
The lamb loin, spinach pie, piquillo peppers, cauliflower ($26) was our favorite main course, as the lamb was incredibly tender and flavorful with the refreshingly herbaceous green pesto smeared on top. The spinach pie added a flaky buttery texture and earthy vegetable flavor. There’s subtle sweetness from the piquillos and cauliflower.
The pork leg, chicharon, string beans, broccoli rabe, kidney beans ragout ($26) was a very hearty, winter-appropriate dish. The thinly sliced tender, roasted pork leg meat meld with the hearty bean stew. The crisp string beans and sweet-bitter broccoli rabe lightened up the dish.
We’re technically full by the time we’re shown the dessert menu. We ended up splitting the Winter Sundae ($9). A beautiful cup of filled with scoops of creamy olive oil ice cream, lemon thyme whipped cream, halves of bittersweet cherries, and dots of Meyer lemon curd. It’s fruity, not too rich and most importantly – delicious.
When we’re given the check, we were presented a plate of petit fours of chocolate coated almonds and heart-shaped cherry pâte de fruits. The almonds were easy to like and the pâte de fruits were bracingly tart with a touch of sweetness at the end, despite the fact it’s coated with coarse sugar. It’s a good finish to a very solid meal.
To view more photos of this visit, please view the slideshow below (or CLICK HERE):
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at The Standard (East Village)
21 Cooper Square
New York, NY