Hearth – NYC

July 19, 2007

ta.jpgGalen, Timothy, Linda and I dined at Hearth on July 17, 2007. The menus were on the table in the form of paper placemats. We ordered the $78 tasting menu for the table and a bottle of 2005 “Le Bon Climat Vineyard” Cold Heaven Viognier. 

The menus were removed and a refreshing amuse-gueule of a little glass of cold cucumber dill soup arrived.

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The first course was Gulf Shrimp with Sweet Corn Ravioli and Baby Leeks. The corn was really fresh, the leeks offset the sweetness of the other two ingredients; the whole dish was very nice.

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Second came Roasted Black Bass with Peas and Morel Mushrooms. Once again, everything was fresh; the bass had a crispy skin without being overcooked.

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Timothy is concentrating on the food.

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We were then given a surprise course, compliments of the chef: a small bowl of Pappardelle with Rabbit, Fava Beans, Tomato and Rosemary. The rosemary was dominant. We had finished a second bottle of the Viognier and started on a bottle of 2005 Dusi Vineyard, Turley, Paso Robles Zinfandel. It was quite rich, with strong Zinfandel characteristics, and stood up to the next course.

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Which was Ribeye of Beef with Braised Shortrib, Beets Turnips, Shallot Marmalade and Bone Marrow. The somewhat austere pink ribeye contrasted nicely with the very rich long-braised beef shortrib and the root vegetables were appropriate for this good wintery dish.

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The pre-dessert was Chocolate Pannacotta with Candied Hazelnuts.

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The dessert, which was the only disappointing course, was Almond-Cherry Trifle with Mascarpone Cream. We didn’t really need the half-bottle of sweet wine we ordered with it.

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Throughout the meal our energetic and knowledgeable young waiter had been informative and helpful. He cheerfully decanted the Zinfandel when I suggested it. The restaurant’s published philosophy emphasizes hospitality on top of good service.

But the meal provoked two questions. Why is such an otherwise excellent experience subjected to an impossible noise level? (And Hearth wasn’t even full that night.) Two of the walls are bare brick; the ceiling is hard and smooth. Yet they persist in playing unneeded music which causes people to talk loudly. The effect is exponential and seriously detracts from the enjoyment. Fortunately, by 9:30 they were only a third full and the ambience was more pleasant.  

How can they attract a clientele willing to pay quite high prices, particularly for the wine list, in a casual ambience at First Avenue and 12th Street? The food is very good, but there is a lot of competition at this level in Manhattan. 

There is a long, narrow back dining area, which was unoccupied when we were there. One can reserve it for private parties, but I would try to be seated there another time if there is no party.

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There are also chairs along a dining counter facing directly into the kitchen. I think they would be a good option for two diners. I think we will go back and try it. 

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http://restauranthearth.com

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