Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Bits & Morsels

Salt-baked beets with red grapefruit, drizzled with bitter aged vinegar.

by Erin Frankel

Everyone loves a good comeback story. And, although I might be the 16th person to tell you that ACME Bar & Grill has, indeed, reopened, it's worth repeating as it is hotter than you would ever think.

It all starts with an award-winning team: Jean-Marc Houmard (Indochine and Boom Boom Room) has teamed up with Mads Refslund, who earned his stripes at Noma in Copenhagen, one of the world's top restaurants, and what you get is a gorgeously overhauled space, uber-exclusive scene, and perfectly refined cuisine.

Refslund has stripped Acme of its fried comfort food (fried catfish and collard greens) and introduced a Nordic-inspired seasonally driven southern menu (farmer's eggs and black sea bass) – something quite new to our friendly foodie colony.

Jones St. daiquiri at the new ACME Bar & Grill.
The contemporary fare is downright adventurous. Case in point, the aforementioned Farmer's eggs presented in two eggshells filled with a soft, creamy composite of eggs, blended with cauliflower and fresh parmesan, or the light ravioli topped with spinach, brussels sprouts, and a dollop of brown butter.

You can also opt for a dish from the "soil" category, like the delicious salt-baked beets with red grapefruit, drizzled with bitter aged vinegar. Or, the hay roasted sunchokes with New England gruyere and black winter truffles, a dish that my dining companion claims had the richness of escargot yet an intricately delicate texture. And, a dish he claims as the best dish of 2012. Quite the statement.

As for the entrees, the two favorite dishes of the evening were the black sea bass, elevated by a wintry accompaniments of pickled green tomatoes and uniquely flavored seasoning of cardamom, vanilla and dandelion. Or, the crowd-pleasing chicken & eggs, a fairly large bowl filled with a generous portion of thick, flavorful slices of chicken with a savory helping of fried eggs and fingerling potatoes, served in a sweet and creamy puree, which all somehow blend together to make this dish a symphonic success.

The cocktail menu is equally adventurous and rewarding, with its seasonally-driven, fresh ingredients and bold combinations. My favorite being the Jones St. daiquiri, a combination of spiced rum, rye, and fresh lime juice, drizzled with a dollop of honey and Aphrodite Bitters.
The "new" Acme interior.
Naturally, the hit-makers have re-branded the interior to serve their discerning clientele, comprising mainly the fashion and art world. The space now resembles a cross between an old European cafe and a modern-day speakeasy, where you will now find black leather banquettes and tables and black wood walls set against dim lighting fixtures. There's also long marble bar lined with mirrors for easy eye-catching. No doubt, a beautiful upgrade.

Settle in with a good cocktail or two because you will be waiting a good hour for your table. Acme is hot hot hot right now, and the crowds don't leave. We finally sat down to dinner around midnight and every table was alive and kicking.
Farmer's eggs. Two eggshells filled with a composite of eggs blended with cauliflower and fresh parmesan.
Ravioli with spinach, brussels sprouts, and brown butter.
Chicken & eggs, with fingerling potatoes.
Black Sea Bass with pickled green tomatoes.
After dinner, our large group made our way downstairs to a long hallway interspersed with black unmarked doors and peepholes. This is where the lucky ones are privy to the downstairs lounge and can continue to enjoy the spicy, bitter libations and bumping crowd well into the early hours.

9 Great Jones
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