Hearth, NYC 2

September 24, 2013

On July 31, 2013, a few days after my birthday, I returned to Hearth with Blair. I had not been back since our meal there six years before, even though we had enjoyed that meal. I wondered in my blogpost then how Hearth could survive serving such upscale cuisine in such a casual ambience on First Avenue and 12th Street. Of course, the dining scene has evolved and it is now more a question of how a white-tablecloth restaurant on the Upper East Side can survive. Autre temps, autre mœurs. Anyway, Hearth is now entering its tenth year and seems to be doing very well. Although we were offered a seat at the counter open to the kitchen, we had to decline it as the blast of heat in front was too strong for this summer evening. We sat by a window looking out onto 12th Street and ordered glasses of 2011 Jagd Schloss Riesling Sekt Brut, Rheingau.  Hearth is known for the strength of the Riesling on its extensive wine list. This Riesling sparkler had more assertive flavors than our normal Champagne or Prosecco.

The amuse-gueule was a glass of cold sweet corn soup with saffron and tarragon.
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There was a fresh seasonal flavor of the corn, enhanced by the mild, but evident, spicing. A good start.

We ordered the Tasting Menu, which includes six courses from the regular à la carte menu for only $78. At the advice of our very helpful and genial waitress, Laura, we ordered a bottle of 2010 Albert Mann Grand Cru Schlossberg, Wettolsheim, Alsace.
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This was excellent with complex flavors that improved with the food. It was followed by glasses of red Malvasia made by the Hauner winery on the Aeolian Islands off the Sicilian coast. It was rich and good, just right with the lamb course. 

The first course was
CHILLED ZUCCHINI SOUP
Garlic Scapes, Pine Nuts, Garlic Chives, Parmigiano
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This was quite thick. It is easy to make anything taste good by adding little bits of parmesan, but I was not complaining.
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WARM VEGETABLE SALAD
String Beans, Romano Beans, Summer Squashes, Pickled Red Onion, Potato, Garlic, Basil
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It was somewhat disconcerting to have a “salad” of warm vegetables with the crunch cooked out of them, but the flavors were intact and good.

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OLIVE OIL POACHED WILD ALASKAN KING SALMON
Freekah, Ramps, Pole Beans, Radishes, Mint, Cucumber, Trout Roe
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The salmon did have a wild flavor which was enhanced by the garnishes. The ramp was pickled, adding the needed acidity. The freekah, or roasted green wheat, added some good crunch.

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CAMPANELLE
Pork Ragù, Peas, Ricotta, Rosemary
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The ragù had a bacon-like flavor which made this dish easy to enjoy.

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COLORADO LAMB
Roasted Loin, Smoked Rib, Lamb Sausage, Eggplant, Chickpeas, Feta
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The loin had a pure, definite lamb flavor while the smoked rib and sausage were spicier, but not too much. The garnishes were classic Mediterranean and just right.

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The pre-dessert was a watermelon granità with crème fraîche and pine nuts.
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VALRHONA CHOCOLATE CAKE
Candied Cocoa Nibs, Coconut Ice Cream
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The light, refreshing pre-dessert had set us up for this very rich, delicious finish. Blair had tipped them off that it was my birthday week.

The festive table next to us had a special meal that can be had by 8-10 people. A big seafood tower, a standing rib roast with bone marrow and sides and a birthday cake for the table. Perhaps a good idea for a special occasion with a group of friends. The chef seemed to be particularly interested in the special table.

We had a very good time. The food was interesting, well-conceived and well-executed with good ingredients that worked together making unified dishes. The service was always genial and efficient; the pace was just right. The noise level was still high, but had been brought down from its excess on our last visit. It should not be six years again before we return to Hearth.

http://restauranthearth.com/

To see our meal at Hearth six years before click here. 

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