Friday, February 13, 2009

This Tree Stands Tall

With Restaurant Week recently passing, I have had prix-fixe menus on my mind. I came across an incredible deal at a restaurant in the East Village called Tree. On Monday through Wednesday all night, and Thursday and Friday from 5-7pm, Tree offers a $25 prix-fixe menu that is small in scope, but large in flavor and value.

I had been to Tree before for brunch, and really enjoyed my experience. My friend DB was coming through NYC for a night and wanted to go out to dinner after a very long day of traveling. He had only a few requests: no Middle Eastern food, somewhere casual, and somewhere close by. Tree seemed like the perfect option.

Tree got its name from the large tree that grows in the beautiful outdoor patio at the back of the restaurant. But given this was a cold night in January, we opted for a table in the small, warmly-lit dining room. Candles line the exposed brick walls and tables, and have created some pretty interesting wax "sculptures!"


We glanced over the prix-fixe menu, and with only two or three options for each of the three courses, our decisions were made pretty quickly. As I've mentioned in a few different posts, French onion soup holds a very special place in my heart, and I have a very hard time not ordering it when I see it on a menu. The cheese could have been a little more melted on the top, but the flavor was spot-on. DB ordered the mesclun & herb salad, and said it was a pretty standard salad with a nice vinaigrette.

For the entree, I went with the roast chicken, which was served with wild mushrooms, plum tomatoes, and mashed potatoes in a white wine sauce. I am not a fan of dark meat, whether in a chicken dish or at Thanksgiving dinner, so I was glad to see that they offered two different pieces of chicken in this dish. The white wine sauce was delicious - big on flavor, but not too heavy, and all the other ingredients complimented each other well.


DB ordered the classic French meal of
steak frites with haricot verts. He said the meat was very flavorful and cooked well. I tried the hericots verts and the fries, and they were both so good, and pretty authentic French-style.


For dessert, there were two options, so we each ordered one and split them. They were both very large portions, but we had NO problem finishing them! The chocolate mousse was light and airy, and rich...but not too rich.


The crème brûlée was really delicious as well, but could have used a little more "brulee-ing." Just like
Amélie, the main character in my favorite French movie, the best part of ordering a crème brûlée is cracking the carmelized top with your spoon. Maybe next time!

The service was friendly, but a little spotty. And, it took entirely too long for the appetizers to come out. We think they may have forgotten to put in our order, because with only 4 other tables filled, the kitchen was certainly not backed up. Otherwise, I only have positive things to say about Tree. It's great for summer and winter, or any time in between. Sit in the cozy dining room with a warm bowl of soup in the winter, or sip a cold glass of white wine in the 1200-square-foot courtyard. Just be sure to make reservations if you can...Tree may stand tall, but doesn't hold many people!

Tree
190 First Avenue
b/t 11th & 12th Streets
website
Menu Pages listing

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