Friday, January 30, 2009

5 Ninth - Scrumptious Food in a Beautiful Setting

5 Ninth - 5 Ninth Avenue, New York NY 10014
E/L Train to 14th Street

As many of you know, NYC Restaurant Week is in full swing--and a lot of restaurants have even extended it until the end of February. I love this time of year because I get to try restaurants that have been on my radar but that I haven't had the opportunity to sample. One such place is 5 Ninth. My co-workers and friends, Leann, Gina and Meghan came with me, and we all enjoyed a fun evening of fabulous food in a beautiful setting.

5 Ninth is located in a historic townhouse, dating back to year 1848, in the trendy Meatpacking District. The outside is lovely and rustic--you can't help but feel like you're walking into someone's house. When you come in, it continues to feel personal--dimly lit and romantic with a lot of simple wooden furniture and plenty of white candles to set the mood. Although it'd be a good place to dine with my husband, it's also wonderful with a small group of friends. Being at 5 Ninth, we felt like we were far removed from the tumult of Manhattan, and were instead on a quiet street in Brooklyn.

I've heard nice things about the food and our experience reaffirmed that. We were happy to see that the Restaurant Week menu had a variety of options and that our dishes were portioned well. We each started with the same appetizer and then chose slightly different routes.

Creamy Asparagus Soup - This was our first course and we were all eager to start with something warm to remedy the chill outside. It definitely hit the spot but I thought that it could've been a little hotter. The root vegetables that were interspersed throughout the broth were a nice surprise and although I didn't always know what I was eating, it was all very good and fresh. One other criticism about the broth is that it could've used more salt and pepper.

Lamb Cassoulet - This was my entree and it was a perfect winter dish. I'd get it again in a heartbeat because of how hearty and satisfying it was. Presented in a rustic cast iron dish, it looked like a true stew, with large chunks of meat floating in a sea of veggies and grilled bread. The meat was the best part because it was super tender, flavored beautifully by the juices from white beans, tomatoes and garlic sausage. Overall, the cassoulet was a home run and I'd definitely recommend it to anyone who loves meat.

Other Entrees - My friends' entrees included a pork roast with winter vegetables and a beautifully cut skate fish, served with more veggies. They seemed to enjoy everything and while I didn't try these entrees, my friends said that they were incredibly fresh and flavorful--judging by their empty plates, I knew this to be true.

Dessert - We each tried a different dessert so we were able to share and sample everything. Meghan and I got a rich chocolate mousse with fresh whipped cream. Presented in an oval bourbon cup, it was a nice way to end the meal with something decadent yet semi-sweet. I could tell that the chocolate used in this was of very good quality.

Gina ordered the lemon trifle, which was also beautifully presented, and garnished with fresh mint. It was super citrusy--and maybe a little too much for me, but Gina seemed to like it. I'd say that this dessert is suited for hard-core lemon lovers.

Leann chose the cookies and milk dessert. This was the richest dish by far, as the liquid hot chocolate tasted like pure fudge. Although I loved it, I think that after a couple of spoonfuls, I'd be unable to finish it. The homemade marshmallows that melted into the hot chocolate were a nice touch.

Service and Cost:
We were happy with the service although it seemed to change a lot. We started off with one waiter and ended up with another. They were all polite though and didn't look down on us for getting the Restaurant Week Menu, which is sometimes the case at these upscale places. One thing that surprised me is when our waiter said that the Restaurant Week Menu could only be ordered if the entire table decided on it--he said that was a requirement set by the chef. I've never heard of that before and it seemed limiting.

In terms of cost, we each paid $45 for our three-course dinner, including tax and tip. On a regular night, appetizers range between $10-$16 and entrees between $26-$40.

3 Mmmms

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