Fat Tuesday

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006 | All Things, Eats, Friends

I had a bit of time before I had to meet M for our special tasting reservation, so SYB and I spontaneously decided to check out Room 4 Dessert, the tiny dessert bar on Cleveland Place from Will Goldfarb, former pastry chef at Cru. 31-year old Goldfarb, who is reknowned for his unorthodox, experimental creations, opened his NoLIta dessert laboratory in January 2006 to fine reviews. It was named #23 on New York magazine’s list of Best Cheap Eats of 2006.

Room 4 Dessert

We found ourselves the only ones seated at long polished wood bar. In addition to the usual wine-by-the-glass selections, R4D’s menu offers dessert cocktails (called “glasses”), dessert flights (called “tastings,” with clever-clever names like “Laissez Pear”) and dessert alternatives (like the “Project Bunway” and “Ghostface Keller” — surely the only menu item in the city to play tribute to both Wu Tang and Thomas Keller.)

Just non-appetite-spoiling cappuccino for me; SYB went for the “Choc ‘n’ Awe,” which was painstakingly assembled by the friendly bartender: a serving each of butter cookies spread with dark chocolate ganache, chocolate ice cream, cocao mousse and a white chocolate cake with a ruby port sauce.

Choc and Awe

Bill Buford, founding editor of Granta magazine and author of books on British soccer hooliganism and kitchen apprenticeship penned an engaging essay for the June 26, 2006 New Yorker about a stint he did at Room 4 Desssert, offering a glimpse into “the different planet from the rest of humanity” (Goldfarb’s words) occupied by pastry chefs. Check out the scanned version of the entire piece for an interesting read (via Snack.)

And then it was off to the Monday Room, the newly opened wine lounge M and I were cheekily calling “Public Next Door.” Last month, three-year old Public transformed the adjacent space from what had been offices, then a gallery, into what now feels like a secret hideaway, set off from the scene of the main restaurant and bar. We were there that night by invitation, to sample the menu in progress, with wine pairings. (Thanks, M!)

I was immediately struck by how design and concept firm AvroKO had completely transformed the tucked-away space: from the pristine white-walled box it was a month and a half ago to a sexily-lit club room with low tables and leather stuffed chairs. M and I were presented short menus from which we were to select the tapas-inspired small plates to sample. Based on our selections, the sommelier created flights of wine tastings (half-glasses) from Monday Room’s extensive and rotating list of 60+ bottles — each of which he sampled personally upon decanting.

Chef Brad Farmerie‘s rich and varied menu — created specially for this restaurant offshoot — offered many temptations. We began with smoky, grilled strips of chorizo in a mole-esque purée of black beans and chocolate, studded with chile-dusted popcorn. Sounds strange perhaps, but it was so delicious, we ordered it twice. Ditto the venison carpaccio, which was terrifically light, and made up for missing out on our favorite Public starter of cured wild boar. We also tried the rounds of foie gras pâté with toasted bread…

Foie Gras and Chorizo

Venison Carpaccio

… and a cheese plate with mostly New-England cheeses. M, who as a rule, doesn’t eat seafood, did not join me in sampling the Tasmanian sea trout. (Pity for her – it was citrusy, salty and divine!)

Tasmanian Trout

But we both shared the squared off green mango sticks, tartly crisp and studded with chiles, arranged Jenga-like on the plate — reminiscent in form to Public’s summertime watermelon and feta cheese salad.

Mango Sticks

For dessert, a selection of dainty chocolate truffles, with unique flavor combinations like pumpkin and (more) chiles.

We spent well over three hours in the Monday Room, lounging, sipping and enjoying the fine company. At one point, Chef Farmerie himself came out to mingle with the guests. I later learned that the Monday Room takes its name and inspiration from a New Zealand man that AvroKO knew of, who set aside a special room in his offices where he would retreat on Monday evenings with a glass of wine, to smoothe his transition into the week ahead. Sounds good to me, any night of the week.

Looking forward to my next visit – if I’m ever able to score one of the 24 seats again.

Monday Room

There's 1 comment so far ... Fat Tuesday

December 9, 2006

Holy smoke, reading (and seeing) that makes me hungry now.

Go for it ...