With so many restaurants opening on a weekly basis, I have a perpetually-growing list of places to try. Last week I hit two of them. The first, Urchin Bistrot, was a thoroughly solid tour through France—steak tartare, cassoulet, and steak frites were all present and accounted for. But as much as I developed some very personal feelings for a plate of smoked ocean trout, so glistening and silky, I was most enamored of the chocolate bete noire cake, a dense, fudgy little puck of black magic accompanied by a scoop of Bi-Rite's toffee coffee ice cream. Deceptively simple in presentation, it evoked equally straightforward feelings of intense pleasure, proving that truly good cooking needs no adornment.
My second stop was at Ferry Plaza Seafood, newly reopened in an airy, elegant space just across from Washington Square Park. Though there's lots of marble and plush leather, the restaurant has a resolutely casual ambiance—it's not trying too hard, and it doesn't need to when its namesake seafood is so effortlessly good. The place also smells faintly of brine, always an encouraging sign where aquatic cuisine is concerned. Though I loved the local king salmon I got as an entrée (it had the texture of buttah, as La Streisand might say), the single Point Reyes oyster I had to begin my meal was, no exaggeration, transcendent, in the sense that it allowed me to transcend my immediate surroundings and travel to a higher realm of bliss. Put in less flowery fashion, it was fucking delicious—cold, creamy, and redolent of the sea. I could have eaten a dozen of them. Make that two dozen. I hope to do so sooner than later.
What would this column be without a shout-out to Il Cane Rosso, my redoubtable lunchtime standby? They give good salad: the one I had was comprised of little gem lettuce, avocado, roasted butternut squash, pepitas, quinoa, and creamy dressing. The avocados make this thing—they're creamy and applied with a generous hand. Really, they could give me nothing but a box of sliced avocados and I'd be happy; everything else was just icing on the proverbial cake.