Adventures of a Gastronome in Training (GIT)

One amateur foodie's quest for culinary enlightenment. Musings on cooking, dining, food products, basically all things edible are fair game.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Hearth

Hearth opened last November with considerable expectations for chef-owner Marco Canora and partner-wine director Paul Grieco. Canora most recently held the point position at Craft and Craftbar, and the “less is more” influences at Hearth are apparent. This is probably okay since Tom Colicchio (Craft, Gramercy Tavern) not only taught both Canora and Grieco, but is a financial backer of the restaurant. Critics have been complementary (Grimes, Hesser, Rubenstein), but Egullet-ers and Chowhound-ers have been more enthusiastic seeing a great opportunity to have Craft dishes like hen of the woods mushrooms ($9) at more everyday prices.

The warmth generated by the name Hearth is not translated to the sparse and simplistic environment. The rustic brick walls are set off with shiny copper pots, and the ceiling is painted a brilliant red. I liked the staff uniforms of blue stripped button-downs with Levi’s. They, more than the décor, set the tone for an unpretentious dining experience, that and the wine menu – well, beer menu to be specific. I usually don’t order beer in a “fine dining” experience, but the respectable list of a dozen domestic and international beers including De Musketiers Blond Ale from Belgium ($8.75) and Stoudt’s Gold Lager from Pennsylvania ($6.50) told me otherwise.

The meal started out with the red snapper crudo with lemon, red pepper, and rosemary ($10) and dandelion salad with anchovies ($12). I preferred the simple flavors and silky texture of the raw snapper with the lemon and red pepper. Marty favored the salad where oil from the anchovies infused the dressing giving the whole salad a zing. For an entrée, I tried the black striped bass with roasted garlic and wilted rapini aka broccoli raab ($24). It was a solid, simple dish the played together nicely. Marty had the lamb sampler or “roasted and braised domestic lamb with lamb sausage” ($26). It was hard to choose whether the short rib or tenderloin cut was best. Actually, I’m not sure what cuts they were – that was just my best guess. The sausage was not all that trilling, but when you have a sampler something has to be the relative loser. We couldn’t resist trying the straight from Craft gnocchi side dish ($7), which are, as reported, pillowy soft with subtle parmesan flavor. I just can’t believe they can get potatoes to take on such a light feel. We were in a hurry for dessert, so our waiter suggested we try one of the essentially “warm and serve” offerings. I have to say Lauren Dawson, Craft's former pastry sous-chef, did not let us down. The warm plum tart ($9) was wonderful, buttery, mildly sweet, and all together a surprise hit. It didn't matter that it was served with a forgettable lemon thyme ice cream.

Hearth offers thoughtful cuisine aware of seasonal and local ingredients as well as simplistic flavors at surprisingly fair prices in a welcoming atmosphere - seems like a great mix to me. Since I have only been to Craftbar once for a sandwich and never to Craft, it’s hard for me to compare. I do fear having a lower priced alternative will put a bit of a delay on heading out to either anytime soon. In fact, today I made another reservation for Hearth for a treat next month…

1 Comments:

Blogger Pedro said...

Finally I've found someone like me that not only likes to photograph her restaurant experiences but publishes them!
(Helas my blog's in Portuguese so you won't be able to understand it...)
I sure become a frequent client of your blog!
Best wishes!
Pedro - www.planeta-reboque.blogspot.com

3:06 PM  

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Jennie/Female. Lives in United States/Jennie Auster/New York, speaks English. Eye color is blue.