Saturday, March 15, 2014

Pete's Eats - County

34 E 20th St
New York, NY 10003
Btwn Broadway/Park Ave

Quick Eats: Manhattan with Bulleit bourbon; cauliflower soup; roasted chicken; bread pudding. 

Living in the far side of Manhattan’s Chelsea (or the West Chelsea Corridor, as some call it), I often feel when I go to more centralized locations that I’m going "into town." And recently, I went into County, situated in the Flatiron District. The marvelous set-up configured warm, repurposed wood from upstate New York on the walls and ceiling to set a comforting tone surrounding the garrulous, mostly young crowd.

I was as cold as a well-digger’s nether regions when I entered but a Manhattan, straight up with Bulleit bourbon and garnished with a brandied cherry remedied that effectively, as delivered by our sweetheart waitress, Hannah. My dining companion opted for another region, the Vodka East Side, just like candy while still packing a punch. Mint and cucumber made a great combo and anticipated spring—this is also available with a dose of devilish absinthe, to be knocked back at your own risk!

Charred edamame (with a glaze more spicy than sweet) was indeed too spicy for me but I warmed up to a warming, delicious cup of cauliflower soup, which was just the ticket for the evening, with roasted walnuts, a swirl of chili oil and cubes of slightly pungent raclette cheese. Creamy ricotta cheese with grilled country bread was great, served with a honey drizzle, mint and an admonishing bite from red chilis.

What then after soup? Why, salads of course, for our next course! Kale arrived, dressed with a very fragrant garlic-lemon vinaigrette, nostril-tickling grana padano cheese and minute brioche croutons. More salad featuring julienne green apples, bibb lettuce and spiced walnuts in a Parmesan vinaigrette was also a delight.

Al dente cavatelli became our pasta course, so hearty and filling, outfitted with tasty nubbins of pork in the ragu, braised kale, a button of ricotta, a peck of Pecorino and a springy step of lemon.

I tend to avoid chicken at restaurants and veer toward the more adventurous, but the roasted chicken clucked at us and was just ducky (you may imagine a sly wink emoticon here if you wish), part roasted and part fried to crispy golden brown perfection. Accompanied by a fiery side of collard greens and delectable, dreamy, cloud-like mashed potatoes. Short ribs were certainly big chunks of meat, delicately balanced by a salad with refreshing mint and sensually pink supremed grapefruit. A side of Brussels sprouts in a creamy vinaigrette rounded out the meal.

We flipped over the heavenly bourbon bread pudding draped with buttery caramel and devoured it hastily. I’m not sure which county County refers to but we want to be part of that district!

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