Graffit may just be a case of style over substance. But is it art? Executive chef and founding partner Jesús Núñez spent a colorful past as a graffiti artist, and his fare reflects that with a fanciful reliance on such things as purple potatoes and a deftly designed palette of sauces poised to please the palate. The whole affair appeared quite fun from our perch in the graffiti-sprayed garden at the back of the restaurant.
141 W 69th St btwn Broadway/Columbus AveNew York, NY
While we considered wine, we tended toward The Upper West Side ($12) cocktail. Rittenhouse rye, ruby port, maraschino liqueur and brandy-soaked cherries were a perfect foil for the reluctant spring day. The Beet Goes On ($12) with gin and ginger, beets, celery, apple foam and a sprinkle of dehydrated beet powder was just like a brisk morning jog with booze.
Forego the familiar and seek adventure on the menu. We stalled over the Pulpo a la Gallega ($14), octopus with a spray of purple potato purée and a scribble of smoked paprika, but admired the street-art aspect. Kale Stuffed with Creamy Mushrooms and Vegetable Sauce ($13) was a savory bundle reminiscent of a rangoon with mushrooms, kale purée, cream cheese and a vegetable gastrique influenced by sherry vinegar. Not-Your-Average Egg ($15) was a wildly vibrant collection of stewed peppers, asparagus and peas. The crowning glory was the egg itself, stripped of its albumen, which was miraculously replaced by an orb of cauliflower purée forming the perfect alternate egg white. Beyond! “Fake Truffles” ($14) were an entertaining garden of falafels planted in “edible earth” comprised of olive and carrot powders, with hazelnuts and citrus yogurt sauce.
Filet Mignon ($27) was fine meat indeed, with a frolic of wild mushrooms, fragrant rosemary and then, disconsolate bone marrow ravioli. Duck Breast ($26) in a white wine fennel duck reduction was rich and excellent with a galette of white truffle potatoes and green-apple purée.
For dessert we eagerly drew upon the sexy Warm Liquid Chocolate Fritter ($10) experience with explosive kumquats to further color our world. Graffit isn’t cheap but then again, art has always had its price.
First published in Next magazine.