Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Bits and Morsels

Chocolate Love Affair Frozen Yogurt. at 16 Handles.

by Erin Frankel

Dinner for two on Valentine's Day. It's a big decision and I'm here to help. So, how do you decide where to go? Below is a short list of the most interesting Valentine's Day menus around town. And you can still get a table!:

Table for two at The Harrison.
The Harrison
Neighborhood: Tribeca
355 Greenwich Street

Menu Highlights: A selection of East and West Coast oysters with with lemon and chili magnonette; ricotta cavatelli with duck confit, eggplant, tomato, and chevre; salmon tartare with truffle, shallot, micro salad, and potato gaufrettes; day boat sea scallops topped with a truffle soy vinaigrette and accompanied by a crispy shiitake salad; lobster thermidor topped with parmigiano reggiano, fine herbs, and baby portabellas; skillet roasted chicken with brussels sprouts, bacon, and butternut squash puree; and grilled sweet potato topped with a leek vinaigrette, oyster mushrooms, and organic kale.

Appeal Factor: For the sophisticated woman who appreciates the best and brightest of old-school American chefs (aka Jimmy Bradley) in a timelessly ambitious, first-rate restaurant (10 years and counting) and opts for seasonally-driven, rustic yet fine cuisine. And, if she is well-attuned to wine varietals, the 300-label wine list here should impress her as well.
The Harrison.
Neighborhood: Nolita
153 Elizabeth Street

Menu Highlights: A mixed greens salad with champagne vinaigrette; mustard crusted diver scallops; grilled pork loin with kabocha squash and peanuts; steamed halibut drizzled with ginger broth and accompanied by napa cabbage; lamb chops topped with blue cheese and roasted winter vegetables; cranberry cheesecake topped with poached cranberries and pistachio tuile; and bananas foster chocolate mousse.

Appeal Factor:
For the hip, downtown denizen craving a warm, cozy, yet modern space complemented by seasonally-inspired American Nouveau cuisine and a killer cocktail menu. If she's a Southern gal, this is your spot.
Close quarters at Ellabess.
Neighborhood: Upper West Side
2450 Broadway

Menu Highlights:
Heart-shaped chocolate brownies with four chocolate covered strawberries and strawberry sauce served over whipped cream and a raspberry mouse heart with raspberry sauce.

Appeal Factor: For the abundantly hearty foodie who favors copious portions in a festive atmosphere. After dinner, you can seduce her with the Valentine's Day Kiss, a lover's concoction made with Grey Goose Vodka, Creme Cacao White, and smooth Godiva white liqueur topped with shaved chocolate.
Socarrat Paella Bar
Neighborhood: Chelsea
259 W. 19th St.

Menu Highlights: Paella Especial for two, with prawns, red snapper, bonita flakes, and artichokes, followed by heart-shaped churros with chocolate dipping sauce.

Appeal Factor: For the unpretentious and authentic paella aficionado with a penchant for small, intimate and sexy quarters. The whiff of garlic, pork fat and prawn sauce makes for a truly bona fide Iberian experience.
Socarrat Paella Bar.
Neely's Barbecue Parlor
Neighborhood: Upper East Side
1125 First Avenue

Menu Highlights: Wild mushrooms in a puff pastry heart with shallot cream sauce; heart-shaped lobster ravioli in a rich lobster bourbon broth; and raspberry mouse heart in a sweet raspberry sauce.

Appeal Factor: For the Memphis transplant who loves her ribs, pulled pork, and mac and cheese as much as her man. Neely's is Memphis-themed honky-tonk meets the Upper East Side. Your date will be left in an oh-my-god meat coma by the end of the night. Maybe not such a good thing!
Neely's Barbecue Parlor.
Vinatta Project
Neighborhood: Meatpacking District
69 Gansevoort Street

Menu Highlights: Foie gras terrine with red wine gelee; portobello mushroom duxcelle; oil poached Artic Char on parsnip puree; apple parsnip chip lamb rib chop with basil pesto confit potato; and a complimentary glass of champagne and an oyster with champagne foam.

Appeal Factor: For the lady who loves the gritty glitz of the Meatpacking District sans the table dancing and velvet ropes. Here's to the decadent and dapper couple.
Vinatta Project.
The Red Cat
Neighborhood: Chelsea
227 10th Avenue

Menu Highlights: Roasted red pepper and tomato soup with garlic croutons and fresh basil; country pate with cornichons, chives, and sliced bread; burrata with eggplant caponata, sliced prosciutto, and roasted peppers; lobster salad with a cilantro caesar dressing, parmesan, and old bay chips; sauted snapped complemented by sauteed asparagus and fennel over an orange emulsion; oven roasted halibut with sauteed bok choy and snow peas under a mango chili vinaigrette; grilled filet mignon complemented by buttermilk mashed potatoes, spicy escarole, and wild mushrooms; and pappardelle pasta with black pepper, fresh ricotta, and wild mushrooms.

Appeal Factor: For the artsy chick, a West Chelsea neighborhood staple that offers refined American cuisine in a no frills, comfortable and casual setting.
16 Handles
Neighborhood: Union Square/West Village
498 Sixth Avenue

Menu Highlights: A special Chocolate Love Affair Frozen Yogurt.

Appeal Factor: If you introduce your Valentine to them, you get a $5 gift card. What's sweeter than that?