Monday, January 25, 2010

Praying For Another Visit To This "Church"

It’s not often that I am able to go to a restaurant and order absolutely anything and everything that I want. But, when that opportunity comes along, it is very important to take full advantage! And that is exactly what I did last Friday night. After spending many days and countless emails trying to decide where to go to dinner, CD told us that through one of her clients, we would be able to get a comped meal at Church Lounge in the Tribeca Grand Hotel. Done and done.

We were seated at a lounge table in the middle of the gorgeous space. It was so nice to be able to sit back and relax on the very comfortable couch and chairs, but it did make it a little hard to eat some of the non finger food. The DJ was playing great music and the atmosphere was somehow lively and relaxed at the same time.

After putting in our drink orders right away, we took a look at the menu and started calling out things we wanted to try…and ordered ALL of them! We started with a pizza and grilled skewers. The pizza had fontina cheese, cremini mushrooms, and my favorite ingredient in the world…truffle oil! The crust was paper thin and crispy, and let all the flavors of the toppings stand out without being overwhelmed by too much dough. The grilled skewers were a great assortment of meats and were a fun way to try a lot of different things: habanero shrimp, beef satay, lamb charmoula, and miso Chilean sea bass. All four were very distinct and tasty, and despite featuring flavors from different cuisines, somehow they all complimented each other very well.

Next we ordered one of the appetizer specials of the night, which were scallops wrapped in prosciutto served on top of white asparagus and baby carrots in a celery root puree.

Then we ordered the grilled lamb chops and grand mac & cheese. The lamb chops were served with a tomato jam and cilantro chutney with a side of roasted fingerling potatoes.

The grand mac & cheese truly was grand. It made with cavatappi pasta and black diamond cheddar, then baked to brown the top layer just slightly. I'm not sure how black diamond cheddar differs from regular cheddar, but it definitely made a difference in this dish!

The whole time we kept eying the French fries on the menu, but it seemed weird to order that alone. So, what goes well with French fries? Tuna tartare of course! It was mixed with avocado, jalapeno and citrus soy, served with fresh homemade tortilla chips. The combination of the textures and flavors made this dish absolutely delicious.

And to round out an out-of-control meal, we ordered the hot chocolate cake for dessert, which was topped with pouring cream and served with vanilla ice cream. Any molten chocolate cake or chocolate soufflé is very difficult to bake properly. Bake it too long and you have plain chocolate cake. Don’t bake it enough and you have chocolate batter. But, when it’s baked properly, it is something worthy of savoring every single bite!

Some of the numbers: 3 friends, 6 drinks, 8 dishes, 3 ½ hours. Pretty sure that adds up to one fantastic night! A meal like this doesn’t come around often, but I am praying that it happens again soon!

Church Lounge
2 Sixth Avenue
b/t White & Walker Streets
Menu Pages listing

Monday, January 4, 2010

Crying Wolf

Wolf & Lamb Steakhouse & Delicatessen is located in Midtown. I noticed on the sign outside that the restaurant considered itself a steakhouse and delicatessen. I was definitely curious about this combo, as a restaurant usually excels when it has one focus or specialty. But, I decided to reserve judgment until I could take a look at the menu.

The interior had a warm, casual feeling with dim lighting, exposed brick walls, and ornate mirrors. We were seated promptly by a friendly host who also turned out to be our server. As I perused the menu, I mostly saw items that fit on the menu of a steakhouse. Only a few things would be considered delicatessen items, including a sandwich and appetizers that contained pastrami.

We started with chicken tenders that were tossed in a picante chili pepper sauce. The flavor of the sauce was fantastic with just the right amount of kick.

I was in the mood for something a little lighter, so I ordered the fettuccine in cream sauce with grilled chicken and sautéed spinach. I have to say that I was impressed with the cream sauce given that there was no dairy in it. The portion was immense and did not skimp on the chicken. Usually this would be a good thing, but this was possibly the worst grilled chicken I’ve ever eaten at an upscale restaurant. It was processed and chewy, like the kind found at the grocery store pre-packaged in strips.

JK decided on a center-cut rib-eye filet mignon. Each entrée comes with a choice of a side and he chose the rustic French fries. He ordered the steak medium well, but was less than impressed with how it was seasoned (or the lack thereof) and cooked. The outside was overcooked, but the inside was close to medium rare. A steak of this quality should be cooked to the customer’s preference, which was not the case here at all.
To round out a pretty disappointing meal, the seemingly friendly host/server who greeted us was no where to be found throughout the meal and shrugged us off twice when we tried to get his attention, before reluctantly coming over to our table.

Wolf & Lamb seems to be a popular restaurant, as most tables were filled on a cold Tuesday night. The restaurant has a convenient location and a large menu, but I can’t imagine that the food is what keeps bringing people back. With many other great kosher steakhouses and delicatessens in the area, perhaps Wolf & Lamb should focus on trying to be a great steakhouse or a great delicatessen, rather than being mediocre at both.

Wolf & Lamb
10 East 48th Street
b/t 5th & Madison Avenues
Menu Pages listing