This last weekend I went up to NYC for an early Hanukkah celebration with my family. My family is a located all over the country. My mom is in Colorado, my dad works in NYC and commutes between there and CO, my sister is in South Carolina and I live in DC. We made the decision to meet up in NYC last weekend and celebrate Hanukkah a little early (it actually starts at sundown tonight).
It was nice to see them and explore NYC a little more. Every time I go up there I am just amazed with how much there is to see and do. On this particular trip we had dinner at a french bistro just down the street from where my dad lives, which was just delicious, and went to afternoon tea at this place in Greenwich Village that is quaint, truly English and overall a special place to go on a damp, cold day.
First, a french dinner. We went to Matisse located on 2nd avenue and 49th st. None of us had been there before but it looked cozy and the aromas wafting from the restaurant smelled of garlic, herbs de Provence and wine. We waited about 30 minutes for a table (because the restaurant is small, no more than 12 tables in the whole place) and had the most delicious and classically french meal. We ordered way too much food but it was all so tasty, I wouldn’t have wanted to cut anything out.
We started with a few appetizers. We got homemade chicken liver mousse, tarte tatin of caramelized onion and goat cheese and a beef tartare (see picture below) all of which were exceptional.
I was so impressed by the beef tartare because it tasted like the way I always thought beef tartare should taste. Any other time I’ve eaten this dish (which is few because I’ve been so unimpressed), I experienced something that was bland, mushy and under seasoned. This tartare was bursting with flavor; you could clearly taste the beef along with the herbs and vegetables mixed in with the beef ( I could clearly taste onion and herbs de Provence).
The liver mousse was rich and creamy, very tasty (bottom of picture below). The mousse was served with toasted french bread, cornichons (mini pickles) and little cocktail onions.
The tarte tatin was A-MAZ-ING! Such a special dish (top of picture above). A small onion caramelized to a deep brown color, which makes it super sweet, topped with a generous slice of goat cheese and held together by a very thin piece of pastry dough. It was freakin’ good, I mean lick the plate good.
For mains We got the mussels, filet of Sole, beef bourguignon and one of their daily specials duck breast with pureed turnips and a blueberry reduction sauce. All the dishes were good. I was surprised by the Sole, I assumed it would be a plain dish but it was actually quite bright with the fresh lemon-brown butter sauce they used.
My favorite dish was the “Julia Child” beef bourguignon. The dish was cooked in individual cast iron pans, which I love because my favorite part is the sauce that gets baked into the sides of the pan. The sauce was rich in flavor and the beef was fork tender. There were bite-sized pieces of carrot, onion and the dish was served with butter linguini pasta. All the sauce stuck to the pasta, a nice change from scooping with a piece of bread (and a little less messy).
The duck was tasty as well, I like how they served the breast with turnips instead of potatoes. Potatoes are so boring, they have no flavor and just underwhelm me. The pureed turnips, which are just as creamy and smooth as potatoes, have a slightly sweet flavor, a perfect accompaniment to the blueberry sauce. If your mouth isn’t watering yet, just look at the presentation of the dish.
That plate is just a work of art right there. It looks almost too beautiful to eat…wait a minute, maybe I shouldn’t go that far.
That’s more like it.
The duck was cooked perfectly and there wasn’t that much fat on the piece either, which I liked. I hate cutting into a piece of meat and having a pile of cut fat and gristle on one side of my plate just because I had to work my way to get to the good stuff.
Dinner at Matisse was perfect for a family get together. The service was wonderful, the atmosphere was intimate and the dinner tasted delicious and effortless. I highly recommend you try it if you are in the neighborhood.
My post about afternoon tea will follow in the next day or two. For now I’ll just let you salivate over this savory meal.