Saturday, June 6, 2009


My sister and I went to this bachelorette party last night for one of our cousins.  It was one of those parties that started late and included an even later dinner and when I picked her up at Grand Central, we were both hungry.  Since we had to be in the Union Square vicinity, and since it was a cold and rainy day, and since our last attempts at a meal at Ippudo had been thwarted by crowds, we decided to make it a ramen day.  

It's amazing that this place has a wait, even at 5:30 in the afternoon.  When we finally took a seat, it was closer to 6:00.  Salty-sweet chicken wings had that perfect, glossy, crunchy texture only acquired with hot oil and a substantial deep-fryer.  They came with sweet pickled cucumbers and carrots.  Ramen was, as always, a memorable experience.  I'll agree with Frank Bruni for once and say that the best dishes at Ippudo are the soups made with stewed pork bone broth.  The noodles are slim and not too chewy.  Our soups (the Modern this time around) also came with pieces of cabbage and Berkshire pork).  

We headed to the W to meet my cousin and her friends, where we played a bridal trivia game, drank Korbel with raspberries, and wore giant red-glowing plastic rings.  Then it was off to Alta, a tapas bar on 10th Street.  

My cousin is gluten-free, and Alta had a menu telling us which dishes we could order.  In a way, that made things easier, since there were so many choices on the menu.  I deferred my input.  Sometimes I'd rather sit back and not look at the menu.  Salty mussels came in deep cast-iron posts with plenty of residual broth.  Skewers of shrimp and chorizo were spicy and smoky.  Crab cakes came without panko, but as a result lost that textural contrast so important to a good cake.  Lamb and okra skewers were confusing; pieces of eggplant that looked like lamb were actually, well, eggplant.  The lamb itself was good enough, once we could locate it.  

Sea scallops eluded me (there were only three) and chicken wings with paprika didn't live up to our previous wings.  I couldn't eat a pretty beet salad that came studded with hazelnuts (I'm allergic), but I could eat perfect pounded duck breast wheels, stuffed with scallions and served over a foie gras emulsion.  Deviled eggs were just fine; the pork toast version Resto serves is better.  

Dinner wasn't expensive: 50 bucks per person and we covered the bachelorette.  But my sister and I got to thinking that if we hadn't eaten a mere few hours before, we would have probably found dinner a little anemic, or maybe I would have dipped a little deeper into the Oloroso Sherry pool.  

65 4th Avenue
New York, NY 10003

64 W. 10th Street
New York, NY 10011

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