I guess Sundays are my "free days," in which I pay less attention to the nutritive value of what I eat. That isn't to say all bets are off (I was offered a late-afternoon cupcake by a friend and declined), but it does mean my standards are lowered a notch.
For lunch, I went to Sunset Park's Ba Xuyen, known for their banh mis. But instead of sandwiches, we had soups, two steamy bowls of pho filled with noodles, shrimp, boiled quail eggs, cilantro, bean sprouts, pork sausage, and boiled beef. I made mine pretty spicy with the help of some nearby chili paste, but regardless, the soup was soul-satisfying. I skipped the boiled beef, which always freaks me out a little. The shrimp was enough protein for me.
Later, I had a birthday dinner planned with a friend, but we were early for our reservation. Walking past Sushi of Gari on 77th and Columbus, we decided that we had to begin our evening with raw fish. Maybe we didn't have to order toro, snapper, and hamachi, but we did anyway. Three perfect sushi pieces came with the perfect compliments. Atop fatty toro, we received a salty radish puree. Hamachi came with lightly pickled jalapenos and my snapper was topped with something deep-fried and something else involving nuts. The pieces were perfect and I think we both wished we had time--and money--for omakase.
But we had a reservation to make down the street, at Dovetail, where the Sunday Suppah is a 3-course meal for $38 (not including extras, supplements, and alcohol). My starter of beef tartare tasted really ketchupy, which I liked, though others at my table disagreed. Perhaps they were put off by the accompanying huckleberries, but I liked the contrast of salty and sweet. Seared foie gras was by the book (served with something sweet--in this case, huckleberries again), and a salt-cooked onion was layered with unexpected shaved black truffles. It was difficult to cut, though worth the challenge. Crab ravioli sang with a smokiness imparted by diced chorizo.
My entree of chicken was tasty enough, left moist and draped with a crack-your-tooth crunch layer of skin. I could have done without feta cheese creamed spinach and I only ate the boring root veggies out of respect for the vitamins they possessed. A cheese plate did us fine. Dovetail pits old world cheeses against their Vermont counterparts. In this case, the Jasper Hill Bayley Hazen Blue lost to a runny and pungent French blue. The sheep's milk cheeses were a tad bland for my taste, though I loved the onion and black pepper jam that joined them.
I would have passed on dessert, had they not arrived in that obligatory "share all" fashion. Apple crumble was fine, though the real highlight of the plate was Calvados ice-cream. I didn't care for the peanut butter and chocolate moussy thing, and could have skipped the sorbets and ice-creams entirely. A warm bread pudding with black mission figs came with a nice glass of malted Ovaltine, not a bad way to end the evening. By then, our heads were swimming from a 2008 Brocard Chablis and a 2007 COS Nero d' Avola. The expensive wine list plundered any notions of a cheap Sunday Suppah. But then, wasn't that to be expected?
4222 8th Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11232
Sushi of Gari
370 Columbus Avenue
New York, NY 10024
103 West 77th Street
New York, NY 10024