Friday, December 31, 2010

Market Fresh

The food at Market Table reminds me of most of the other food coming out of New York kitchens these days--seasonal, homey, ingredient-focused, and lacking a little bit of fire. That's ok. Sometimes you just need a tasty meal and, for me, last night was one of those times. Anyway, who could pass up sitting in such a pretty little restaurant, with its floor-to-ceiling windows facing snowy Carmine Street, with its colonial Christmas wreaths on the doors and windows, with its string of precious little white lights running up the bar's central wood column? I love Christmas as much as any Jewish girl ever could and I love sitting in a warm and glowing restaurant on a December night wrapped in a soft sweater and a wisp of red wine.

Speaking of wine, the Market Table by the glass list isn't deep, but it is thoughtful. I had an inexpensive (by European standards) Corbieres from the south of France, followed by an Olga Raffault Chinon, one of my long-standing favorites. It was a little young and not as dirty as it gets with age, but I appreciate any restaurant that sells a Chinon by the glass.

And so, the food.

My hamachi crudo starter came with the obligatory sliced fruit--in this case, julienned pears. The dish hit all the right notes, with clean acid and sweet fruit and a slight hint of the ocean, but it was a dish I had tasted before on another night in another farm-to-table restaurant. No spark, no fire.

Next came a generous pork porterhouse, bone-in, cooked to a perfect medium and topped with a red onion and vinegar slaw. The meat was surprisingly underseasoned, forcing me to reach into our complimentary bowl of Maldon salt for some pork triage. It helped. The meat itself was leaner than I had expected but still possessed of the perfect texture of well-cooked pork. The creamy, cheesy spaetzle underneath, dotted with fine leaves of Brussels sprouts, went down easily indeed. So did the crispy, crunchy Old Bay fries with their horseradish ketchup (which really tasted of nothing but cocktail sauce). And so did our two scoop gelato finish, a rich dark chocolate and a nutty bourbon pecan.

It all tasted good and I left nothing for the waiters to scrape into the bins out back, but I still have to wonder if good tasting food is enough anymore. Maybe I miss the fire.

Market Table
54 Carmine Street
New York, NY 10014

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