I try to blog about Restaurant Week here in New York each season. For my previous NYC Restaurant Week adventures, check out this link.
Our first stop for Summer 2011 was to 10 Downing. I had heard very mixed reviews. I felt like a few years ago, everyone said this was one of their top places… but recently there were a number of people who called it a “let down.” I figured Restaurant Week was a good time to try it out.
When we arrived, we noticed that tucked in the corner, chatting away, sat Emma Stone and Kieran Culkin. Pretty cool sighting!
The Restaurant Week menu included a choice of 3 apps (chilled pea soup, sweet shrimp with grits, and heirloom tomato & watermelon salad), 3 entrees (sauteed wild striped bass, chicken with summer squash, and braised short ribs), and 2 desserts (spiced chocolate torte or almond & pecan panna cotta).
Mike chose the sweet shrimp and Anson Mills cheddar grits, which came with garlic, jalapeno, and fried leeks. He very much enjoyed it.
I went with the chilled English pea soup with buttermilk ice, summer fruits, and puffed barley. It also had beautiful orchids floating on top. It was refreshing and the fruit was an awesome pair with the soup. Perfect for summer.
Mike went with Hudson Valley Farms chicken with summer squash, eggplant, fingerling, and pistou (which is a cold sauce made from cloves of garlic, fresh basil, and olive oil). It was filled with flavor and surprisingly not “boring” for chicken.
I wanted the short ribs, but was disappointed to hear that they were still 2 hours from being done with the slow cooking (which I found especially strange since our dinner reservation was at 7pm, and while I know people eat late in NYC on a Friday, 9pm to START serving a dish seemed weird). But they were doing the same preparation (broccoli, bearnaise sauce, and shallot confit) with skirt steak. So I went for it. It was delicious and tender, with a great sauce… but…
…There were a number of inedible things on the plate. From a gob of fat on the steak to a shallot and garlic still in the peel, I found it weird that they didn’t seem to have completed the prep and just threw things on the plate that were supposed to be there but someone didn’t know what to do with them.
Mike went with the spiced chocolate torte with muscato reduction and chipotle cream. It sounded good, but I couldn’t have it. Mike said it was “just okay.”
I chose the almond and pecan panna cotta with roasted cherries and madeira. Now this was AWESOME. This is how panna cotta is supposed to taste. I have had a lot of panna cottas over the years, and always found it just… eh… But this was a fantastic texture, flavor, and rich in goodness. And the cherries were mmm mmm good!
Overall, 10 Downing was pretty good, and we enjoyed their Restaurant Week selection. Some things felt just a bit “off” about the service and the prep, but it was quite good food and I’d return for a non-RW meal without hesitation.
Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10