Best of January 2015
February 5, 2015
There was another candidate for the best of January 2015 but on the very last day of January, I went to Racines NY and they stole the #1 spot. It was one of the coldest nights in NYC and the whole city seemed like it had gone to sleep. We saw many empty restaurants - even the ones that usually packed - and no sign of people walking. When we arrived at Racines, the hostess took us to a cold window table unfortunately, so we told her that we were willing to wait for another table or dine at the bar. Soon she came back and told us we could sit at the chef's table which happened to be available. What a special treat!
Sitting at the chef's table and watching the action in the kitchen always thrills me. I guess that is the same reason why people love hanging out at the kitchen when we have a dinner party. But the huge difference between my house and Racines is you get to see the Michelin star chef, Frederic Duca plating and giving the finishing touch to all of the main dishes. He even served us and chatted about how our dinner was. How cool is that?
The restaurant has a modern industrial / French farm house look. It is simple and casual but beautiful with brick walls, exposed cealing, hardwood floor and subway tiles in the kitchen. The service was very professional but very friendly. They have an amazing wine list and there are plenty of reasonable wines as well. Glass wines are also available and all of them are very affordable too (the most expensive one is $19 but most are under $15). I totally understand why many people choose Racines as the best wine bar (although it is not really a bar). So far everything was so perfect.
(top) January menu at Racines
(middle left) One of the chef preparing first course for us
(middle right) Butternut squash velouté
(bottom left) Squid with chickpea pure, preserved lemon and olive vinaigrette
(bottom right) Cold water trout crudo
Now move on to the main topic, food. Both my husband and I loved their squid dish. It reminded me of Northern African food from Morocco and Tunisia. The combination of chickpea pure and squid was very interesting and it worked beautifully. I ordered cold water trout crudo which was also amazing and I really enjoyed it . Although for someone who does not like fishy taste, this may not be a good choice.
(top) Chef Frederic Duca plating dish
(middle left) Hake, leek, marble potatoes and razor clams
(middle right) Confit lamb shoulder, winter racines, Brussels sprouts, anchovy/rosemary
(bottom) Beautiful chocolate tart
Their main dishes were outstanding. I had a big piece of Hake, razor clams and potato with razor clam juice leek sauce. My mouth is watering while I am writing this. My husband got a confit lamb shoulder. It was small pieces of very tender lamb shoulder pressed together tightly to make a square brick shape. It was garnished with beautiful seasonal veggies. This dish made my husband smile the whole time.
It was a very satisfying and beautiful dinner. I saw every single dish on the menu come out of the kitchen and they all looked amazing. They offer a five course Chef's tasting for $75. Maybe that would be a great choice especially with wine paring based on their reputation as a top wine bar.