New York City Restaurant Week- the few weeks per year where us mere peasants can eat like royalty. Some of NYC's finest restaurants offer a three course prix-fixe lunch for $25, or dinner for $38. Often, an entree alone in these restaurants will run you that amount, if not more. The city's program is a great way to have a special dining experience without breaking the bank. This year I was lucky enough to eat at two seafood restaurants that I have wanted to try for years- City Lobster and The Sea Grill.
Last week, my friend Liz and I caught up over the restaurant week dinner menu at City Lobster. Conveniently located in midtown on 49th St. between 6th and 7th avenues, the restaurant's location makes it perfect for a pre-theater dinner. We had tickets to "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time," which I highly recommend to anyone looking for a good show!
For my appetizer, I went with the New Brunswick Lobster Chowder. The soup was thinner than a bisque, but creamy enough to be a filling first course. Inside was a decent amount of tender lobster meat. Liz had the shrimp cocktail, which consisted of three jumbo shrimp.
For the entree, we both were drawn to the St. George's Filet of Sole. A generous portion of sole arrived over a bed of perfectly cooked haricot vert. On top was a ragout of Maine lobster and crab, and a lemon cream sauce that complimented the plate’s flavors.
Dessert was a split between the Crême Brulee Cheesecake and the Frozen Key Lime Pie. The cheesecake was hands down my favorite. The crisp layer of buttery caramel on top was like a dream. On top was a berry compote drizzle and some fresh blackberries and mint. The key lime pie was a disappointment though- way too biter. I much prefer Ina Garten’s version, which I frequently make in the summertime.
As much as I enjoyed my meal, I'm undecided as to whether or not I would return at a non-restaurant week time. The wait staff had a bit of attitude and something about the restaurant just seemed dated to me. The inside lacked the atmosphere that I always hoped for when looking in from the outside. Nothing I had blew me away and I definitely felt I could recreate the entire meal at home.
The highlight of restaurant week for me was The Sea Grill. Located within the concourse of Rockefeller Center, the restaurant boasts a view of the ice skating rink, which lent itself to some of the classiest people watching I have ever experienced. My friend Joe saved the day and accompanied me after a last minute cancellation, for which I am so thankful as this was one of the best meals I have had in quite some time.
For the appetizer, we split the Sea Grill Chowder and the Jumbo Lump Crab Cake. The chowder had an underlying smoky flavor from the smoked bacon and was chock full of lobster, shrimp, clams, and potatoes. Perfect for a cold winter’s night. The crab cake was packed with huge chunks of fresh crabmeat and laid in a mustard sauce that gave it just the right tangy kick.
The Maine Monkfish ‘Osso Buco’ was my entrée of choice. The flakey white fish was served bone-in over a bed of white beans and escarole, and topped with a panko gremolata. The perfect blend of herbs in the sauce and topping really tied this dish together leaving a refreshing taste.
Fallen Chocolate Soufflé Cake was a dessert that you can’t really ever go wrong with. What took it above and beyond was the fresh caramel infused whipped cream that accompanied it. Our incredibly friendly waitress, who it turns out shares February as her birthday month, was sweet enough to bring a candle in my dessert, and a plate of petit fours making the evening even more special.
As insanely priced as The Sea Grill can be without the help of restaurant week, I would definitely return. The freshness and flavor of the food, the kindness and professionalism or the staff, and the atmosphere and view make it worth every penny. From start to finish, this was a perfect meal.
I’m already anticipating part two of 2016’s NYC restaurant week this summer. This winter’s list was endlessly filled with restaurants ranging from every style of food to every neighborhood of the city, and I wish I had time to visit more. That being said, I am so happy to have had two excellent dining adventures. Til next time!