Friday, April 16, 2010

Colicchio & Sons Review

From a superstar (Tom Colicchio) in the food world, I expect a superstar brunch (Colicchio and Sons). This was no flashy, impressive brunch. But neither was it a snooze. It fell somewhere in between — uniting ingredients unfamiliar with with one another, yet leaving a distinct sense that they were all trying to hard to show off. And unfortunately, we saw right through it.

The space, near the west edge of the city on 10th Avenue and 15th Street behind Chelsea Market, was airy and modern, but impersonal, a place you could only have a superficial friendship with, not a cozy closeness.

Brunch at Colicchio and Sons went something like this:

Ferris Bueller for a waiter, a goofy grin on his face, presents us with menus and determines our preference for water. He soon returns to take our order, asking if we have any questions. Only one: Does the assortment of pastries include all the pastries listed? He too excitedly answers "Yes, everything there." Then a moment later he clumsily corrects himself — everything BUT the lemon cream doughnuts that we had been hoping for. We settle for an order of just the doughnuts.

The three plump doughnuts arrive generously coated in sugar, oozing lemon cream.

They're sweet, but light and full of tart, citrusy cream. Young Bueller returns to ask us how we're enjoying them at a moment when all the fried dough to be had is clearly gone.

We observe the place quizzically as we notice we have bread plates and that other tables have received plates of some sort of bread. We inquire and the busboy answers "More bread?" and we nod as though we have already had some. We puzzle over the nonarrival of this mysterious bread until our entrees arrive at our table along with a set of three mini-biscuits served with a side of apple cinnamon butter.

The biscuits (which one of Colicchio's other restaurants, Craftbar, also served at another recent brunch) were fine; perhaps they would have been greeted better had they arrived earlier to sate some hunger.

The dishes seemed discordant and absent-minded — in some ways they were clashing and yet, it felt like they were missing something. 

Let's start with the crispy pork with sunnyside-up eggs, ramp salsa verde and white beans. I tasted grassy onions, the flavor of the earth. The bean and ramp mixture tickled my brain's recognition of the smell of freshly cut grass. I never did like that scent. The bright eggs were gently cooked and the thinly pounded pork cutlet was good, but could have used more seasoning.

I was lured to the Carolina rice Johnny cake with duck confit, poached eggs and  Red-Eye gravy by a photo and writeup on Serious Eats. But my cornmeal pancakes weren't crisp, though they were still slightly sweet and tasty. The duck confit lacked the gamey flavor of the bird and with the gravy made for a distinct mixture only in its thick saltiness. The eggs were the runniest poached eggs I had ever had — much too much so for my taste.

Unfortunately, Bueller, cheeriness does not equal good service. And note to superstar: the basics are inspiring, but the execution needs work; don't let fame ruin your food.

1 comment:

  1. The food in those photos looks distinctly unappetizing. But I do love Ferris Bueller.