I watched Shopskin's close and was thrilled when it was revealed that Gabriel and Joey from Little Owl were the new owners hooking up with Mike from Little Mermaid. What were they going to do with the place?
The market opened up a few weeks ago. Emily was the first one there. She brought back a smorgasbord of dried fruits that were absolutely delicious and different. We were counting down the days for the restaurant to open. I tried last Friday but to no avail, Saturday was the first night and we were out of town. Yesterday was my lucky day.
Fred had already had lunch at Market Table but agreed to have dinner there too. First of all, they have done an absolutely fantastic job with the space. The market is on the left and flows easily into the large dining room. Large big windows. Simple seating. Even the bathrooms have small touches of home. Like Little Owl, you can see that these guys take complete ownership in their space and since they spend a fair amount of time there, they have make it feel like home for themselves and their customers. I love it.
The formula certainly worked at Little Owl and in many ways, it is the same formula. The menu is simple. I always think of it as going to someone's home for dinner who happens to be an outstanding cook. Seven appetizers, 7 entrees and 3 sides. The wine list is also solid and meant to match with the food.
I began with the heirloom tomatoes and am seriously trying to figure out how I can stop by and have that again today. Quartered pieces yellow, red and green tomatoes in a small square bowl mixed with thin slices of basil and red onion with a balsamic vinaigrette that the tomatoes had been tossed in still sitting on the bottom. Just fantastic. Fred had the romaine salad. Interesting combo but also delicious. Pieces of romaine lettuce mixed with a chickpea, cucumber, celery dressing. Lots of little pieces from the dressing and about 5 pieces of raw tuna over the top. Sounds strange but totally works. BTW, the bread comes from Sullivan Street that arrives at your table with some nice olive oil for dipping to begin your meal.
For dinner we went with fish. It is still so bloody hot outside it was tempting not to go with the braised lamb shank but it gave me a reason to come back. I had the grilled swordfish. Grilled to perfection and sitting over a roasted corn, avocado and cherry tomato salad that had been tossed in a simple vinaigrette. What was a nice twist were the crispy onion rings on top. The combo of the crisp with the fish really worked. Fred went with the seafood pan roast. Scallops, shrimp, cod, etc. served with a fennel tomato white wine sauce. Really simple and good.
Had to have dessert. Chocolate peanut butter bar. There are 5 desserts, all sound good but the chocolate was just calling out.
We got there at 6 and there was a line at 7. You can begin making reservations 10/1 but for some reason I think they changed it for today.
One of the best meals I have had at a restaurant in a while. I am thoroughly impressed with these guys. Gabriel works the room brilliantly. My guess, this is the second restaurant and there will be more to come as they build a small empire in the West Village. So far, two major hits out of the ballpark. The pro but the con is that each restaurant is small and intimate. The word is out so getting back in for another meal may not be so easy.