Tuesday, August 4, 2009

10 downing

Last week, we had the pleasure of dining at 10 Downing during Restaurant Week. And by the way, did it seem to sneak up on anyone else this year? I thought we just had Restaurant Week. And while this may sound like a complaint, it's far from it. It's just that when it came time to make my reservations a few weeks back, I was kind of 'laxed about the whole thing and didn't put much time or thought into my choices. Wherever could take a table of four at around 7ish and that of course I had some interest vested in, was fine for me. So I went ahead and booked a table at 10 Downing. Right around the corner from my apartment, and pretty central for the rest of my dining companions, we excitedly marked our calendars. A mother-daughter double date of sorts.

Rewind to last Wednesday. Monsoon-central. Never have I ever seen rain like that in all my (24) years. Not only was it coming down in sheets, but it was whipping around with such vengeance my lip would literally quiver every time I'd turn my head towards my window. I'll be honest: I hate the rain. And I hate it even more in the city. Wind tunnels, upturned umbrellas, inappropriate shoe situations, hair catastrophes etc., all add up to complete anger and misery in my book. But with determination and hungry stomachs, we somehow all made it to 10 Downing within reasonable time. Even if, by no means dry.

As I was the first to arrive, I sat at the bar and decided to order a glass of wine. Which, by the way, is always a slightly awkward experience. Once glancing over the wine list, I chose some sort of white which the bartender allowed me to taste. Now, I've been told many times before, that my facial expressions are rarely masked. When I see, feel, taste anything, my face shows it for all to see. So even without my knowing, as soon as I sniffed, swallowed, tasted the wine, the bartender deemed it not my taste. "You don't like it, do you?" And while it was fine enough, he was absolutely right. He suggested something else (albeit one of the most expensive wines by the glass on the list. hmph.) which was definitely unique. Did I love it? Well, maybe not. But I did love that he was incredibly attentive and wanted to make sure I was content with my selection. Alejandro, I believe his name was. Thank you, Alejandro.

Once all my damp dinner companions arrived, we were seated and dove into the menus and almost instantaneously decided we were going to fore go the Restaurant Week Menu. My Mom and I decided to split a charcuterie plate (I had heard it was not to be missed) and Allison and her daughter Sarah went for the baked sheep cheese with red pepper relish. For my main course, it would be the egg uovolo with truffle, sugar snap peas, and proscuitto and for Mom, the sweet corn agnolotti with basil, peekytoe crab, and lemon butter. Across the table: The spinach and ricotta gnudi and another sweet corn agnolotti.
First courses arrived and before I could take a first bite of the much-anticipated lamb proscuittio, Allison and Sarah had polished off the baked sheep cheese. Needless to say, they freaking loved it.

The charcuterie was nothing short of interesting and indulgent. The chicken liver pate was smokey and smooth and perfectly salty spread over a charred piece of grilled bread. That and a good bottle of red wine, and I could have been set for the night. The lamb proscuitto was also quite spectacular. Slightly gamey, chewy yet tender, I don't see why it's not sold right alongside regular proscuitto at any specialty market. The sausage (I can't remember what it was called) was the only thing I didn't need more than one of. It wasn't flavored with much of anything and just had a strong "meat" flavor that didn't leave me wanting more.

Then, the main courses arrived and boy am I glad I was able to snap pictures before my Mom dove into her sweet corn agniolotti. Let me just say that my Mom is an incredibly tough critic. I'm always nervous before presenting her with just about anything, what she's going to think. That said, the woman was this close to picking up her bowl AND my bowl and licking it clean. I mean, there was not a speck of anything left on our plates as she gushed about how delicious everything was. The soft poached egg hidden inside the delicate ravioli skin oozed its luscious yolk into the truffle butter sauce creating one of the most indulgent bites I've ever encountered. And the salty bits of proscuitto and sweet crunchy pieces of sugar snap peas just made your eyes roll to the back of your head. Her sweet corn agniolotti with peekytoe crab was clean and wonderful. I probably would have been better off with that order, only because my uovolo was so rich that I felt bad taking more than two bites. Regardless, everyone was smacking their lips and smiling at the beauty of the food that had just been devoured.

Noisy? Yes. But to me, it's all part of the ambiance. While I might not go here on a first date, unless you'd rather not get to know each other whatsoever, it's perfectly appropriate for a night out with a couple friends to share some incredible food. And most of the time, that's what it's all about.
And for the record, the next day I received a call from Mom. "I just have to say how unbelievably delicious all the food was last night."
The look on my face? Well, I'm pretty certain had you seen it, it would have quite obviously read sheer happiness and success.

10 Downing
10 Downing St. at 6th Ave.

1 comment:

perfectbite said...

I just wanted to tell you that Allison also shared my review... Big happy raves about the evening... we would all gladly do it again....and again!


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