Sunday, January 20, 2008

West Village rendezvous: Wallsé and Waverly Inn

J and I had planned to stay in last night and cook. Domestic she is not, so when her friend Tim from Chicago called and wanted to go out to dinner, I knew her obvious preference. We are both pretty social so it was fun to go out on a cold winter's eve.

We decided to eat dinner at Wallsé. I like the place but have had erratic experiences with the food and service. Last night was one of those negative experiences. I found this disappointing as a previous brunch there was outstanding. I arrived a few minutes early and to my dismay, saw a former collegue. We both decided not to acknowledge each other. I am usually civil with people that I don't like but this person is a more than a bit unusual. She gives me a chill up my spine. I can tolerate almost type of person but I can't stand competitive and super catty women. I could feel the claws come out as she checked me up and down. Luckily, I looked great!

Wallsé is located on the corner of 11th and Washington and is the perfect West Village neighborhoody restaurant. I love the West Village; it is one of my favorite neighborhoods in New York. I lived at a building called the Printing House, at the corner of Hudson and Leroy, for a couple years and loved it. After dropping my coat at the front, I headed to the bar. Tim, J's friend, had already arrived. The hostess informed me that we were both waiting for J so I headed over and introduced myself. I noticed that he was very well dressed (learned later that he works for Giorgio Armani) and good looking. We started chatting right away. He ordered a glass of St. Laurent. I was in a sparkling wine kind of mood so I ordered the Schloss Gobelsburg Sekt. I am a big fan of sekt and with a cépage of 70% Gruner Veltliner, 15% Riesling, and 15% Pinot Noir, I found it to be very Gruvee with white flowers and lentils on the nose and white pepper and subtle grapefruit on the palate. My favorite sekt is Willi Bründlmayer's but his cépage is different with 40% Blauer Burgunder, 30% Chardonnay, Grauburgunder, Weissburgunder, and Grüner Veltliner.

I was especially hungry as I am back on my fitness routine so I ordered the spatzle (with braised rabbit, sweet peas, corn, tarragon and mushrooms) and lamb chops. The spatzle was overcooked. Texture is everything in getting spatzle right and it was so completely wrong. The ratio of gamy rabbit and spatzle was off too. The dish was a bit bland without enough rabbit stuffing. The corn tasted canned. The sauteed brussel sprouts were best component.

Although our appetizers arrived quickly, there was a considerable wait for our middle course, the market menu scallops. Although above average, I enjoyed the scallops that I ate at Raoul's, this past Tuesday, more. The scallops lacked the freshness that one should experience with any seafood product.

It took a while for our mains to arrive. I had a bite of Tim's weiner schnitzel with lingonberries. The weiner schnitzel was expertly prepared but there was too little lingonberry sauce to cut the fat. I also had a bit of J's roasted cod with baby carrots, chanterelles and ginger carrot. The fish was delicious but the accompanying sauce so so. Of course, I shared one lamb rack each of my three racks with my dining partners. I had ordered the lamb medium rare and it was more medium when it arrived. Also, the lamb was not cut uniformly; it almost seemed as if an amateur had cut it. I did not eat much of the fingerling potato puree. Temperature is key in a dish so rich in butter and since it was room temperature and not warm, it was not worth the calories. The most redeeming quality of the dish, once again, were the sauteed brussel sprouts.

Since Tim liked the St Laurent, I ordered the 2004 Lehner St. Laurent. St. Laurent is in the Pinot Noir family but this wine typically reminds me of a cross between a pinot noir and a syrah. As expected, the Lehner smelled and tasted of blue and black fruit and a bit of black spice. Easy and enjoyable.

We decided to have a drink at Waverly Inn. This is the first time that I had been here and was impressed by the number of good looking people that I saw. J looked at me and said, "There's lots of beautiful women here". "Yes", I reponded, "And some very good looking men". The wine list by the glass was dismal but I wasn't in the mood for a beer or hard alcohol. The first two wines were corked. I settled on an ubiquitous Cotes-du-Rhone although I was focused on the people watching and not much else.

Wallsé
344 W. 11th Street
at Washington St.
New York, NY 10014
212-352-2300

Waverly Inn
16 Bank Street
at Wavery Place
New York, NY 10014
no num

Raoul's
180 Prince Street
nr. Sullivan St.
New York, NY 10012
212-966-3518
Wallsé in New York
Waverly Inn & Garden in New York