My last night in New York, I knew I wanted to go out for something fun; find one of those big name chefs for a nice dinner and do it up right before I kicked off P90X. My original choice was Marc Forgione. Not only is he the latest Iron Chef, but his cuisine seems incredibly innovative and fun and he is the son of an absolute food legend. But I apparently wasn’t the only one with that idea as there were no reservations available. I’m sure my co-worker and I could have made our way to the bar for a full menu, but we wanted to be sure we could get in some place. So, I decided to check out Bar Americain, and there were seats available. I was excited as I made the reservation; I was now completing my Bobby Flay trifecta.
After a long day of meetings out on Long Island, we made our way into the city. Thanks to the mobile app from OpenTable, I was able to keep adjusting our reservation as we made our way through traffic. We found a parking garage, and made our way a couple blocks to Bar Americain. One of the things that still gets me about Manhattan is the street that we are walking down is narrow, and could be some back alley, except it’s full of well dressed people checking out shows like Jersey Boys before or after dinner at Bar Americain.
The entrance to Bar Americain is pretty non-descript…you could be walking into a bank or a hotel. But inside, the restaurant is quite nice. There is a privacy wall when you enter, so all you see straight ahead is the hostess stand. Off to the right is a set of stairs leading up to what looks like a private dining area. There is also a cold bar with lots of fresh seafood laid out for you to see. We walked around the privacy screen to a dining area filled with people, and a long, well stocked bar along the back wall. The vibe here was definitely one of a slightly upscale, slightly older crowd (as opposed to Mesa Grill which I found had a bit more casual vibe…).
I started off the night with the Bar American version of a dark and stormy. Rather than Ginger beer and Gosling rum which was how I’ve had it previously, it was the rum, crystalized ginger, and another ingredient that I can’t remember. I just know that it was incredibly good and I easily put two of them back. While I was still working on the first one, our waiter came by to take our order. I had an idea of what I was going to go with, but asked him anyway. His appetizer recommendation was the spicy tuna tartare, and I decided to go with it. For the entree, I ventured out on my own selecting the rabbit.
The presentation of the tartare was definitely beautiful. It was accompanied by feta, capers and some parsley (I believe). The flavors worked really well together…a little bit of heat from the tuna, a little saltiness from the capers. It was a nice almost creamy texture, and matched very well with the grilled bread. But, even as good as it was, I was disappointed in my choice. A small part of it was because the bread was a little more charred that I like. Most of it was because I’ve had good tuna tartare before, and this wasn’t anything more special than I’ve had before. Plus, I ended up not trying the Vidalia Onion soup or the grilled pizza, both of which looked uber-delish.
After finishing my tartare and ordering another drink, we were able to settle into conversation for a little while as we waited for the entrees to make their way out. While discussing the days events, a nice big plate was placed in front of me. There was both a rabbit leg and a piece of what I’m guessing was breast (wherever rabbit white meat comes from). It was served with some fingerling potatoes and a little bit of a whole grain mustard sauce. I went to use my knife and fork to cut into the first bite, and it just fell away from the bone. The first bite was nice and moist, though definitely mild in flavor. And while I’m not one to say everything tastes like chicken, this kind of was more along that line. The whole grain mustard definitely gave it a nice little bite, and it ended up being a good, solid dish.
Knowing that it was my last night in NYC, and my last big meal out before I was starting my P90X program, I decided to splurge and go for dessert. The lemon meringue tart jumped out at me immediately (basically screaming “order me!”), so that’s where I went. It ended up being pretty good. The lemon was nice and tart, and the meringue light and fluffy. There was a little raspberry that added a little more sweetness and rounded things out. But the tart shell was pretty dry and flavorless. I ended up actually just eating most of the filling and leaving the shell.
After we finished, I parted ways with my colleague and walked down to Time Square for a drink to just take in my last little time in New York. Bar Americain was a nice way to end it, though I wasn’t blown away. When I ate at Mesa Grill, the flavors exploded, the food was fantastic. Heck, it was Mesa Grill that kicked off this blog. My dishes at Bar Americain seemed more subdued, almost a little more “classic” which was different that I would expect from a Bobby Flay restaurant. I missed the explosive flavors with the rabbit; the potential for chiles and spices. It’s funny, a year and a half ago I would have just been excited to be there, and now I’m being a little critical of a place like Bar Americain; I guess I’m making some progress.