Hey! I'm back! Maybe just part-time for the rest of the summer, although there are a TON of new places that I'm eager to check out, so it's not like I have nothing to write about! Thanks for being patient, but the break was very needed and was quite helpful.
The new Strong Place (270 Court St., between Kane & DeGraw, no website) opened up last Monday, by the chef & owner of Bocca Lupo, (Kenny Tufo and Jeff Lederman respectively) and we took the opportunity to check it out. We also had heard from a photographer we interviewed back in the Fall that her boyfriend was making all the furniture and woodwork, and were curious to see what he made. When you walk in, there is a long, dark bar to your right, the length of which you follow to get to the tables in the back. There are windows on both sides of the space, which is a nice, and rare, touch. The tables are indeed beautiful and interesting. There are two-tops bolted to the floor, and metal fixtures into which you set an addition to expand your table as needed. Very clever.
We started off with some beer and wine. The beer comes in what look like 12-ounce glasses and my pour of wine was quite underwhelming. $11 for a few sips isn't cool. Ah well. Small plates = small drinks? We perused the menu, which is broken up into four sections: raw, market, seafood and meat. We started off with the Fluke Croudo, small slices of fluke with citrus, jalapeño, sea salt and agrumato oil (an olive oil infused with lemon). This was a delicious dish, possibly my favorite of the evening. Light, tender fish, subtle slices of jalapeño and a citrus dressing. It was flavorful and refreshing and topped with slices of pickled red onion.
We also ordered the Grilled Asparagus from the "Market" section of the menu, which came with a mushroom fondue and pecorino. The mushrooms were delicious, a mixture of hen of the woods and oyster in a thin cheese sauce. The asparagus, both green and white, were crisp, grilled just so and wonderful.
We also shared an order of Seared Diver Scallops, with English peas, tasso ham and lemon & honey. There were two large scallops, tender and meaty, over a mash of peas, with a slice of bacon-like ham served with a froth of the lemon & lavender, which had barely a hint of lavender. They were good scallops, nicely done and of good quality.
The dessert menu had a few options on it and for some reason the Upside-Down Pineapple Cake called out to me. This is not something I've ever ordered before, or have found appealing, but the description: with Brandied Cherries, Almond Cake & Lavender sounded intriguing. And it turned out to be one fantastic dish. The pineapple was sweet, the almond cake provided a nice balance, the cherries were earthy & tart and the slight floral addition of the lavender evened it all out. I'll definitely be back for this - perhaps at the bar with some red wine.
So, the food was pretty great, the servings of alcohol were on the small side, but the service and atmosphere are top-notch so I think this place has got a good chance of doing well.