review: the red cat

I wanted to kick off our new section on restaurant reviews and experiences with one of my favorite standbys. Just a brief walk from my office along 23rd street, The Red Cat is one of those Chelsea standbys that delivers on both charm and consistency. 

The buildout is long and narrow, warmly decorated with nods to the color featured in its name. Red walls, red plates, bowls of red radishes dotting the expansive bar. The service is at once intimate and polished, providing extra knowledge and insights into special wines and knowing the perfect moment to recede back and allow for the diner to immerse themselves in the food. 

And the food plays just on the edge of creative and familiar - the Tasty Burger is a juicy creation laden with gruyere, bacon, pickled onions, and featured on an English muffin. Just the thing for a lunch. If you're going for dinner, don't skip over the incredible Local Skate with Cauliflower, Roasted Grapes, Chestnut, and a perfect Brown Butter Vinaigrette. While I'm famous for having a soft spot for skate, this is a perfectly executed and tender incarnation balanced with the bright acidity and luxury of the vinaigrette. Other notables include the Bucatini with Pancetta, Red Onion, Parmesan, and Tomato

Owner/Chef Jimmy Bradley is an industry man at heart and can also be found producing a Heritage Radio Network show covering topics on the food/hospitality industry, including a recent interview with Chef Marcus Samuelsson. Catch him on Thursdays at 10:00 - 10:45 am at The Front Burner with Jimmy and Andrew.

Reservations available on OpenTable or by calling (212) 242-1122.

cod with vinegared beets, white anchovy aioli, black radish

What's the point of opening a restaurant if you're not opening the best damn restaurant in the world? Why go halfway? This is what I've been asking myself lately as I draw out sketches and ideas for the eventual form of the restaurant. I want this to be an immersive experience - I want the guests to come away from the meal feeling like they've just experienced a great film or book -  a sense of beauty, being uplifted, loss at the end.

I've suddenly been taken with the idea of starting Taiga as a series of pop-up restaurants across NYC. Learn to develop my craft more, get my name out there, practice, practice, practice. This is one of those dishes I've been practicing. That delicate cod, the sweetness and acidity from the vinegar-soaked beets, that umami punch from the anchovy aioli, crisp salt from the soaked carrot and sea beans. Bitterness from the radish. It's all about balance, about touching every flavor at once. 

1 cod fillet
1 golden beet, sliced
1 candy cane (or red) beet, sliced
1 carrot, shaved
1 black radish, sliced
2 oz champagne vinegar
2 oz canola oil, divided
1 white anchovy
2 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350. In a foil wrapper, toss beets with 1 oz oil and champagne vinegar. Add salt to taste. Roast for 15-20 minutes or until soft. Meanwhile, in a bowl of salted water, soak the black radish slices and carrot for 20 minutes. In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice, pepper, salt, and white anchovy. Mix until fully incorporated.

In a metal skillet, heat 1 oz oil over high heat until shimmering. Add seasoned cod, top side down, and cook 2-4 minutes, or until halfway opaque and it releases from the pan easily. Flip and repeat. Plate as desired and serve.

blueberry pie

Summer's half over. Where did it go?

I've mostly been working on the house lately - putting curtains up, digging out closets from under piles of junk tossed there from when A and I moved in March. It's slowly coming together to look like more than just an apartment but an actual home. I find myself wandering through the rooms, cup of coffee in hand, just appreciating everything. Grey and clean-lined with molding everywhere. It's perfect. 

To go with this picturesque setting, I of course need a pie. And what better pie to make than with blueberries from the height of the summer, sweetened by sunlight and heat. This pie is classic, full of tangy blueberry flavor and a rich, buttery crust that flakes on your tongue - just the way I like it.

2.5 cups all-purpose flour
2 sticks butter, chopped
1 cup cold water (all won't be needed)
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar

3 pints blueberries
1 oz lemon juice
1.5 cups sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup cold water

Combine flour, butter, salt, and sugar in a food processor. Pulse, slowly adding water, until chunky but incorporated. Wrap in plastic and place in freezer for thirty minutes.

In a small saucepan, combine blueberries, lemon juice, and sugar and cook over medium-high heat until blueberries begin to break down and become liquid. Whisk cornstarch with water until no lumps remain and stir into blueberry mixture. Bring to boil and reduce to medium high, stirring constantly, until it begins to thicken and a spoon can almost stand up in the mixture. Remove from heat.

Remove crust from freezer and roll out to 1/4 inch thickness on a flour-dusted surface. Fold in fourths and place on a greased pie pan. Unfold and tuck dough into pie pan, trimming off hanging pieces. Crimp edges. Place beans or pie baking weighs in the bottom. Preheat oven to 350 and bake for 10-15 minutes or until just beginning to brown and lightly dry to the touch. Remove from oven.

Remove beans from crust. Pour filling into pie crust and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.