Hundred Acres

IMG_0317-1

In which I go to brunch downtown and eat all sorts of fantastic food instead of studying for my midterm (because food>school, obviously).

Hundred Acres is another one of those New York restaurants that has a wonderful reputation; everyone who goes there inevitably raves about it. So true to form, the best food buddy Cindy and I decided that we would just drop everything else and catch up over a nice meal there on Sunday. I certainly thought that ceding to the appetitive part of the soul was necessary to understand Plato and his conception of self-control and virtue.

Paltry excuses aside, I really did feel like I needed to take a brunch break (though let’s be real; I could always use a brunch break). This was one of the cutest little restaurants in the cutest little neighborhood; I adored the fall-themed decorations and the comfortable dining space. Everything was cleanly and elegantly arranged yet still pretty casual and fun.

Having made a reservation, we were seated as soon as we got there, which was great because they were already booked to capacity and we would have had to wait at least an hour otherwise. Because we were in a self-indulgent mood (having been reading about Plato and the appetites), we sprang for the chicken liver toast ($10) followed by their baked eggs in a tomato stew ($14) and their famous goat cheese and sage bread pudding ($16).

Oh, what a glorious meal.

FullSizeRender-1

The toast was piled high with chunky and tender chicken liver flavored with onions and garlic, and it was incredible how well-balanced everything felt. While the liver was creamy and rich, it wasn’t so fatty that it felt overwhelming (thinking about foie gras), mostly because there was a perfect ratio of topping to bread. The bits of sour pickled beets and fragrant fried onion crisps made for a truly luscious dish.

IMG_0322-1

Then there was the baked egg dish, which reminded me of a shakshuka. Intense tomato flavor and beautifully poached eggs, but I wish they had provided more than the single tiny slice of toast to sop up the whole thing. There was just so much intensity that it needed something to ease the sudden assault on the tastebuds. It wasn’t bad, but nothing incredibly special either.

But the sage and goat cheese bread pudding. Oh. My. God.

IMG_0321-1

There are few times I will say that something is life-changing; besides Nobu, Obicà and Jack’s Wife Freda, very little has blown my mind and completely made me rethink everything I know about food. But this dish was life-changing. The bread was gloriously soft and tender and moist with a sinfully rich butteriness that paired perfectly with the aromatic sage and creamy goat cheese, and the yolk porn from the poached eggs was real. The dish had an interesting duality of sweet and savory that intrigued and tantalized more than confused the tastebuds,  and the spinach provided a nice freshness to balance out the richness of the rest of the dish. The result was one of the most decadent brunch dishes I’ve had the privilege of eating. I think I’m going to have fantasies about this bread pudding for a very long time.

Portion sizes weren’t the biggest, but we were more than satisfied by the end of our meal. I’ll definitely be looking for any excuse to return for that bread pudding.

Rating: Overall 4.5/5 spoons, but the bread pudding gets an extra spoon 🙂

Advertisements

Obicà

If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I’ve always been a huge, huge fan of Italian food, and luckily for me I don’t necessarily have to go all the way to Italy to enjoy it (although I must say that nothing here can quite compare). Obicà had been on my to-eat list for months now, ever since one of my favorite food buddies Cindy raved about it after her Restaurant Week experience last semester (be sure to check out her blog post about it here). But alas, I haven’t had a chance to try it for myself. Until now.

Since I’ve started working with Try the World, I’ve been stupefied by how much good food is within three blocks of the office. Trust a bunch of foodies to pick a location that’s surrounded by some of the best eats in New York. One day, as a few coworkers and I went out searching for lunch, we walked for about a minute when, lo and behold, I stumbled across the one and only Obicà!

I managed to convince the others that the steep prices would be worth it. I guess it helped that it was Friday and everyone was feeling a bit self-indulgent, especially since things at TTW were getting pretty busy. We went in and were promptly greeted by a cheerful waiter, who led us through a dimly-lit dining area that was elegant enough to proclaim the restaurant’s status as a high-quality dining establishment yet still disheveled in a way that made it feel more casual and approachable.

IMG_0284

Everyone at our table went with the lunch prix fixe menu, which offers two courses for $19. For my appetizer course, I chose the Zuppa di Zucca, a butternut squash soup topped with fresh herbs and goat cheese. Presentation was beautiful; the soup was a lovely pale orange with a dollop of cheese in the center, with cheerful flecks of green herbs. After mixing the cheese into the soup, the soup took on a thicker consistency but still maintained a fantastic creaminess with a slightly grainy texture from the squash. They achieved a mind-blowingly perfect balance of sweetness from the squash and subtle sour tanginess from the cheese; it was almost like eating a dessert, since the cheese truly brought out the sweetness of the squash, but the presence of the herbs gave it a savory feeling. The flavors were more subtle than strong, but they complemented each other so well that it felt like I was consuming a melodious masterpiece of a symphony; the chef used the relatively few ingredients to their maximum potential.

IMG_0286

This bowl of deliciousness was followed by a plateful of even more deliciousness: a Pappardelle Ragú di Anatra e Arancia (pappardelle pasta with duck ragú and orange zest). As any Italian restaurant worth its salt (so punny) would do, Obicà prepared the thick pappardelle noodles to a perfect al-dente consistency, but this dish was unlike any other pasta I’ve ever had. The ragù chunks were the perfect size; just big enough to give the dish an extra dimension of bite instead of graininess, without overwhelming the pasta. They chose to pair the flavors of the meat and rosemary with the unique choice of orange, which I must say was a stroke of genius. The sweet and bright citrus flavors were subtle, but they were mind-blowing with the fragrance of the rosemary. And again they were able to achieve a perfect balance of flavors; any more citrus and the dish would have felt too cloying. Adding an extra drizzle of their luscious olive oil imparted an additional complexity with a beautiful nutty flavor and truly made for a decadent meal.

If I were a billionaire instead of a broke college student, Obicà would be one of those restaurants to which I would return time and time again. But I’ll have to settle for the privilege of experiencing yet another life-changing meal in New York. Here’s to many more!

Rating: 5.5/5 spoons 😀