I don't even know where to start. Hearth is a foodies dream come true. The food is exceptionally delicious from beginning to end. The restaurant has a nice vibe too. Open kitchen in the back, bar in front with 6 stools and light is streaming in everywhere around the brick walls that the restaurant is made up of. Not too formal which is perfect for the location of the East Village. Before I write about each taste, I want to write a bit about how Hearth came to be.
Years ago, when I was in a start-up company, we did not yet have an office, so we spent one day a week sitting at Grammercy Tavern. We loved the place. The front room, where no reservations are taken, happens to be one of the best spots in NYC. The food is good, the service is great and the atmosphere is wonderful. We'd sit there from lunch through dinner. We'd start with a lunch meeting, move into a afternoon meeting with a cookie platter and then into another meeting with a cheese platter and wine and then finishing off with dinner. It was great. I can not even count the amount of times that I have eaten there if I tried.
Next came Craft. Craft was opened by Tom Colicchio who was the chef at Grammercy Tavern. He remained at Grammercy, overlooking everything, but was interested in a new undertaking. Interesting concept - and around the corner from Grammercy. All the food there is a la carte and prepared a variety of ways. For instance, you can order a veal chop either baked or grilled, you can order the vegetables either roasted, grilled or steamed. In essence, you put together your own dish. It is a real foodie place but very expensive once u order up your entire meal. The atmosphere there is always warm and inviting. Tom then opened Craftbar next door. This is less expensive, a little hipper and the food is a bit different. All very good. Then, he opened Witchcraft next to that. Witchcraft is take out. They have incredible sweets and delicious sandwiches and salads. The entire group of restaurants together like that is very smart and they all play off each other.
Next came Hearth. Hearth is owned by a guy who started Craft with Tom, named Marco Canora and his partner, Paul, who comes from Grammercy Tavern. To me, how could that not be an unbeatable combination. I have been trying to get there since they opened.
So, let's talk about the food. It was so hard to make a decision because everything sounded incredible. The menu is changed monthly based on what is seasonable - I like that. We started with Marinated Sardines. 3 sardines, completely deboned and filleted. They were served in a light olive oil with very chopped pieces of carrots, celery, fennel and parlsey over the top. The taste was explosive in your mouth. The buttery sardines with the crunchy soffrito crudo was delicious. We also had the red wine braised octopus. The octopus was almost dark red. It cut like butter and the taste was layered of wine. This was served with a celery root puree that u could dip the octopus into with a small salad of celery and potato on the side. Each appetizer was beautifully presented and most important, the right amount of food. Small, delicious but just enough. I hate when they give u so much food that when u leave u feel too full.
Next was our main courses. It was so hot out last night that fish seemed the way to go. We had the Poached Alaskan King Salmon. The salmon was a small square piece - no skin - poached rare that fell apart once u started cutting away. Next to the salmon was a braised bean concoction mixed with a summer bean vinaigrette. Different and delicious. Almost southern Italian in taste and color. We also had the roasted monkfish. The fish was sliced into round pieces which was charred on the ends through roasting. Perfectly cooked. This was served with a piece of Japanese eggplant and a roasted tomato proscuitto combo. All beautiful and complimentary of each other.
Dessert was a must after having this incredible tasting food. The pastry chef is Lauren Dawson. I am not sure of the story of where she came but she is also quite the chef. We split the Milk Chocolate Tart with Peanut Brittle Ice Cream. The chocolate cream was in a semolina tart. The ice cream had pieces of peanut brittle through out and the combination is one of my all time favorites. It was hard to eat it slowly and savor each bite, but we tried.
All and all, a fantastic experience. We left content but not full and could not stop talking about how amazing the food was. I actually made reservations for October before I left. I will attempt to become a regular there.