Restaurant Week…Those two simple words always make my mouth water with expectations of delicious meals in first class establishments for reasonable tabs. A lot of “serious foodies” bitch and moan about RW’s small menus, gruff service, and B&T clientèle. But here at the GrubHub, we embrace it. Since we can’t afford to dine in every restaurant and pay the ridiculous full prices, a great lunch at $24.07 or dinner at $35 makes a lot of sense to us. The most difficult part about RW is making those tough decisions. We usually try 2 places, 1 each week. This year it luckily fell on Martin Luther King Day, so we were able to try a lunch, which is the much better deal, considering the menus are usually identical. We chose Union Square Cafe for lunch and Devi for dinner.
Union Square Cafe
21 East 16th Street (Bdwy-5th), NYC
USC is the perennial pick for favorite restaurant in NYC and it actually lives up to its exceedingly high expectations. It is phenomenal in every way. The setting is relaxed and has the feel of a cafe with several rooms and a comforting vibe. The servers were young, but experienced and friendly. And the food was delicious. The preparations and menu were not pushing the envelope as many New Americans do, they were just spot on and flawless. The menu serves what people actually want to eat. I know, it’s pretty revolutionary. There were 6 starters, 6 mains and 2 dessert choices. I had been longing for their risotto since I had it the only other time I had been to USC 6 or 7 years ago. It was even better than I remembered, with chunks of smoky bacon and apple. It was one of those dishes that I really didn’t want to end and got simultaneously happy and sad with each bite I took. For mains I had braised pork and cabbage stew which was unbelievable. Spud had flounder with polenta that was really fresh and flavorful. For dessert she had amazing hazelnut cake and I had a bread pudding. USC is one of the few places that I would go back to and pay full price. It’s that good. Danny Meyer is a god.
8 East 18th Street (5th-Bdwy), NYC
A week later we went to Devi with two other couples for dinner. Devi is a high class Indian restaurant in Flatiron. The decor is rich and beautiful and the service was also quite friendly. We got a great table that allowed the 6 of us to chat and be separated from the majority of the restaurant. The menu offerings were extensive with 6 or 7 choices for each course, including many high end options. I ordered the scallop as an app and then the prawns with fried okra as my main. Both portions were on the small side, but very well spiced and reasonable for the expensive fresh seafood. Others had the lamb stuffed chicken, which was great, the cauliflower app which was large, and the quail. Nice selections for RW. The dessert wasn’t great, but that is generally the case at Asian inspired restaurants, in my opinion. Overall, it was a very good experience. It was very adult and pleasant, but not drop dead amazing. But high class Indian is not a cuisine that I have too often, so it was worth it. I would recommend Devi for RW, although I doubt I would go there otherwise and pay exorbitant prices when I can get solid Indian food for half the price.
I was so distracted by the great food during RW, that I forgot to take any pictures!