CHERRY – NYC
355 West 16th Street, in The Dream Hotel, New York, NY10011
Theoretically any restaurant in the Dream Hotel should do excellently well given the location and trendiness of the hotel itself. However, Romera, Cherry’s predecessor, only lasted 6 months which may have been due in part to the elaborate tasting menu they offered which was probably too pricey and formal for the average diner. This also reminded us just how brutally competitive the New York restaurant scene is. At Cherry, they know their audience a lot better. They know that people want to share delicious dishes and small bites while sipping well crafted cocktails and good sake to either get them in the mood for an evening out or to simply enjoy a good meal in the ambiance they have created.
Cherry clearly has a similar vibe to its sister restaurant BondSt – dimly lit with sultry red velvet banquettes along the walls. Even the stand – alone tables make you feel like you are on your own little red velvet and mahogony island. The fabric lined walls also add depth to the space and give it sort of a library feel – although without any books.
My friends and I sat down at our cozy table and immediately our general attitude was “screw the salads and soups”. There are so many things that look interesting and delicious, why bother wasting any room with lettuce and broth. We ordered some cocktails and a nice bottle of sake while we dissected the menu. I was feeling a little crazy and didn’t want to go with just my normal Ketel splash of soda so I asked the bartender to splash a little yuzu in there adding some Japanese flair. Highly recommend if you like yuzu. And vodka.
We started with the kanpachi with avocado mousse, celery, cilantro and citrus soy. The fish was extremely fresh and was nicely accented by the tangy green mousse. The black sea bass carpaccio was very neatly presented in the center of a dinner plate with shiso, fennel oil, sazu, chili lime tosazu, and furikake lavosh evenly seasoning the light white fish.
Next up we had the Wagyu beef tartare with a tiny quail egg and buttery japanese pullman bread. This was just a classic tartare with very good quality beef. Sorry no pic here it was destroyed before I could snap one.
The first thing that caught my eye on the menu was the crispy rice with Uni. So simple and so incredibly delicious. The rice is (obviously) crispy on the outside and a gently warmed with a generous amount of creamy fresh uni on top, a quick brush of wasabi soy and micro cilantro greens. We also had the spicy tuna version with Korean chili mayo which is basically transplanted from BondSt (the famous tuna tart also appears on the menu for all you loyal fans out there!). We nearly ordered a second one of each.
The Tamagoyaki was not as popular. I will admit the waiter warned us about this one and I have to say he was right. The smoked trout tasted more like smoked turkey slices out of a a bag from your local deli than fish which was kind of strange. The radish and yuzu buerre noisette did almost nothing to salvage the dish. It made quite a nice centerpiece though with the little pink flowers on top.
The MVP dish of the night was the fois gras and short rib gyoza with plum sake and sour cherries. Posing inconspicuously as your standard dumpling, this gyoza was about as far from bland flavor and colorless center as you can get. The rich earthy flavors of the filling pop in your mouth as you bite through the crispy noodle pocket. Whether or not you think you like fois gras, these are a must.
For those of you who actually already know you like fois gras, the next dish was a very nice rendition of a fois gras mousse. The neatly plated scoop of mousse was so smooth and rich it almost tasted like ice cream. The cherries and spiced cashews served as a nice complement but I did question the necessity of the tuna tataki. We certainly did not eat them together – although maybe we were supposed to?
Our one main course was the Sapporo braised lamb shank with parsnip tofu puree, Tokyo turnip and marjoram. The lamb was so tender it required almost no chewing. The flavors were bold and the fresh vegtables on top were much appreciated in the context of the rest of our meal. The BBQ eel roll with avocado, crispy tofu, and candied bacon was a stepped up version of the popular roll.Braised Lamb & BBQ Eel Roll
Tuna for dessert anyone? Our last dish was crispy tuna tacos with jicama, cucumber and scallions. Although I am not sure the kitchen meant to send it out at the end, the taco was a nice light finish to the meal.
Overll we were very impressed with our food at Cherry and we all plan on returning if we haven’t already. So if you are dining around Meatpacking (sigh) definitely consider Cherry as a highly recommended option. Just make sure you are on time as they are serious about giving tables away.