54 Carmine Street on the corner of Bedford
$90 each for a group of three, with a bottle of wine, with tip
♥ ♥ ♥
Is it too early to name my favorite restaurant of 2009? Last year, I ate at Dovetail the day after Christmas (and a week after its official opening) and it set the bar for my 2008 dining. If Market Table set the tone for the year last Friday, then the bar is pretty high for me right now.
Four of us giggling girls were ten minutes late for our round table at Market Table. I got a call from the maitre d’ while we were turning the corner on Bedford. I hate being late most of all, so I ran ahead of my friends to apologize to the front of the restaurant. It’s in the old Shopsin’s space with large glass windows facing the corners of Carmine and Bedford, but it’s warm and welcoming as you step inside. The maitre d’ shrugged off our tardiness while our waiter treated us as if we’ve been coming to the restaurant for the last few months.
Market Table opened first with a store, but the demand for more tables was high so they went full force with just the restaurant. Former Mermaid Inn chef Mikey Price joined forces with Little Owlâ€™s Joey Campanaro and Gabriel Stulman to open a larger space in the West Village with a menu that’s hearty and, to be honest, hard to fuck up. At Market Table, the kitchen showed how simple food can be so good if you just execute well.
The beef carpaccio was served with an egg salad, shaved Parmesan cheese, capers and croutons. The thin slices of beef were so fresh, they melted in our mouths. If one of us didn’t like the idea of raw beef, I didn’t have to convince her to try them. The seared scallops were sweet and succulent and lightly charred to perfectly meld with the slices of bitter blood orange and tangy hearts of palm. The hamachi sashimi with the limey vinaigrette was the first one to go; the hazelnuts gave it texture and the apple some crunch.
I can’t give the grilled lamb T-bones justice here. You should just go and order them medium-rare and taste for yourself. Why can’t every lamb I order be as good as this? They were the most expensive item on the menu at $32, but each serving comes with two large chunks good to share between two. Of course, the three of us got our own. The watercress and sunchoke salad that came with it made it extra special, drizzled with red wine reduction and melted Gouda cheese. The pork tenderloin was so moist and naturally sweet with pancetta wrapped around it. The small roasted tomatoes and banana fingerlings made it more exciting than just plain potatoes.
The desserts were the weakest during our visit. The brownie wasn’t the moist type we all were panning for while the butterscotch pudding wasn’t the favorite. I think we were all looking for something more dense and cake-y. (I can only imagine how heavenly it would be if the Dovetail pastry chef swooped in at Market Table.) But if a casual get-together ends with a high-end dining experience, give me a cup of mint tea and I’ll call it a very good night.