The first of three Restaurant Week meals: Elettaria, a cozy space on W. 8th Street.
Though I say cozy, the place is roomy, but sort of feels like a stylish living room. It's large enough to have the not-common-enough luxury in New York of comfortable space between the tables so you don't feel like you are sitting on top of your neighbors. When you enter through a bright red door, you notice the rustic dark wood floor and ceiling, and exposed brick. But curved banquettes along the walls, velvety curtains, and low lighting help to soften the atmosphere. And Elettaria has joined on that open kitchen bandwagon.
Elettaria has a long bar area up front and a specific bar snacks menu. The restaurant devotes attention to a nice cocktail menu, which is half price during happy hour (5 -7 p.m.).
Our trio enjoyed:
Martinique Sidecar, a strong mix of aged rum, orange curacao, and fresh lemon juice.
The Mission Bell, a margarita of El Mayor Reposada Tequila, Benedictine, cinnamon and lemon and lime juices on the rocks.
The Simple Life, sparkling wine with seasonal fresh fruit over crushed ice.
The RW menu was limited to three options for appetizers, main course and dessert. As a party of three open to sharing, we were able to try everything.
Instead of bread, a stack of warm, buttery naan was brought to the table with cucumber raita - the strongest showing, during our meal, of the restaurant's South Asian inspiration. The regular menu contained other manifestations through items such as rabbit samosas. One of the two chefs is Indian American. (The other is Filipino American.)
Vegetable plate: This was not the most exciting dish, but for the fact that some of the vegetables were odd colors. Dark greenish-blue cauliflower. The fruits and vegetables marinated in balsamic vinegar were crispy and fresh; they included carrots, peapods, lima beans, raspberries, cauliflower and string beans.
Meatballs: These were juicy and flavorful served with chickpeas and a large piece of fried okra. One of my dining companions deemed the okra too fibrous.
Sea scallops - The scallops were sauteed and had a nice charred surface and were tender. Tasty even for someone who does not love scallops. They came with savory tripe, merguez and sliced endive.
Cavatelli with Lamb Ragu and Ricotta - The medium sized dish of al dente pasta and rich, savory lamb was mixed with chopped basil and red peppers and was very well seasoned. The small chunks of lamb kept the dish from having too gamey a flavor and it likely had some cumin mixed in.
Pan Roasted Skate - Skate so often appears on RW menus that when I see it, I tend to think it's a cop out. It's cheap and forgiving, it can be cooked with little care - breaded and fried. By adding it to the RW menu, usually the restaurant is telling me that it thinks its RW patrons have less distinguished palates. But this skate was very gently coated and still delicate, not too meaty. It was a tad oversalted. This was accompanied by Israeli couscous, zucchini and black olive oil.
Skirt Steak: This medium rare steak came with cheddar cheese grits, glazed onions and string beans. I'm not a good judge of steak as I don't enjoy red meat, but my friends liked this one and thought the grits were delicious.
It's always a nice surprise when the dessert you least expect to like turns out to be the favorite. On this night, the sour cherry clafoutis was the dark horse. An eggy, flan-like custard with cherry chunks topped with Chantilly creme and served in a cherry syrup.
The chocolate financier, topped with ginger gananche was served with almond gelato. The almond gelato lacked that distinct nutty taste, and while not bad, was more reminiscent of a burnt caramel flavor. The chocolate cake was a bit on the dry side and didn't stand out as a terrific chocolate dessert.
We accidentally got two of this dish because the kitchen hadn't realized we were instead supposed to have the rice pudding, which just got added to our dessert course.
The buttermilk rice pudding with passionfruit sorbet was the dessert we were probably most looking forward to and of the three desserts, it came in last. It was a large portion of pudding with very firm rice bits in a grapefruit-pink syrup. The sorbet was delicious and refreshing, but I wanted the rice to be softer, in a way that makes you forget you are eating rice for dessert.
All in all, it was a good meal. I was intrigued enough by this dinner that I would like to return to have another cocktail and to try a few of the interesting-looking dishes on the regular menu.