It’s Restaurant Week Summer 2010 here in NYC, and my boyfriend and I finally made a reservation for a place I’ve been eyeing for a couple of years now. Depending on the season, it’s called Park Avenue Summer, Autumn, Winter, or Spring, and the decor changes entirely with the seasons. Appropriately, all of the dishes we had on the first night of Restaurant Week were incredibly summer-y and some of the best we’ve had in all of our years of Restaurant Week-ing.
Does this look like a chunk of pineapple or what? 10 points for surprising me, and another 10 for serving me cream cheese and herbs with fruit. My boyfriend ate the pink hunk and said it was spicy, so another 10 for that. Not that these points mean anything or can be redeemed. Sorry.
burrata, cucumber, tomato
I kind of got this against my will. It was an extra $5, I hate tomatoes, and I wanted the corn soup. But whew, boy, if the menu had explained in detail what this was, I would’ve ordered two. The cheese is regular mozzarella on the outside, but the inside is a blend of mozzarella and cream, making it this dreamy texture. And also making it funky. It was at once the youngest-looking and oldest-tasting cheese, and it paired so nicely with the fresh cucumber. And the tomatoes? They were actually not as gross as I expected, because there was this rich tomato sauce under them that drowned them out.
I hear chefs talk about how important acid is, especially when it comes to raw fish, but I never got it until this tartare. The first thing I tasted was CITRUS!, and it was glorious. This was probably my favourite dish of the night, just because I’m usually not a fish person, and this made me want to be.
veal chop, summer succotash
This was an extra $10, and my boyfriend made me get it just to be nice, but I secretly wanted his chicken. I’m really bad about not getting all of the meat off anything served on the bone, so I thought it was going to be a waste of good meat. And then I took one bite and realized I’d be picking up the bone and gnawing on it later. (There are pictures.) Super-chargrilled on the outside, super-pink on the inside.
The funny thing was the side. Now, I love corn like nobody’s business, but do you know what I tasted with the first forkful of succotash? PIZZA. I swear, it tasted exactly the way green peppers on a pizza do. And my boyfriend said the exact same thing without me telling him that’s what I was thinking! They must have used a lot of oregano in that salad or something.
free-range chicken, peaches
The peaches were really the highlight here and almost overpowered everything else, which is not a complaint, because the chicken, in my opinion, really would’ve benefited from some spice. I really loved the crispy edges, though, and the crunchy pine nuts. My boyfriend liked the sweet sauce and was reminded of zereshk polo, a Persian dish from his childhood made with chicken, rice, and barberries.
goat cheese mouse in phyllo, honeyed raspberries
Grace Kang from Serious Eats said this was like eating frosting and was “so decadent I could never finish one by myself”. So obviously I didn’t even look at the other desserts. I would say that she was right about the goat cheese being frosting-esque, but I could’ve eaten a whole mixing bowl of it easily. I loved the thin yet moist wafer and the lemony sauce under the raspberries. This dish was so un-sweet that my boyfriend said it was like having a cheese course for dessert, but the honeyed fruit added just enough natural sugar that it completely satisfied me.
banana parfait, chocolate crumbs, banana butterscotch puree
You know how the best part of a Dairy Queen, Dunkin’ Donuts, or Carvel ice cream cake is the uber-crunchy layer of chocolate bits? Now imagine a whole glassful of those, drizzled in banana-flavored butterscotch. WHAT? YES. Delicious.
Park Avenue Summer
100 East 63rd Street
New York, NY 10021 (map)