It’s back! Restaurant week!
Coinciding nicely with my birthday week; a few friends and I dined at La Villette in the Village one Friday evening. Post-birthday, my “food” friend and I enjoyed a fabulous dinner at Butter. To wrap it all up (not a Restaurant week offering, but on the eating out chain) a visiting college friend and I had a charming evening at Uncle Vanya’s Cafe.
We came for a late dinner and hit the second-round dinner rush. Villette caters a bit to the I-want-to-be-seen-going-out crowd but it is a charming little dining room with a sexy bar. One friend had a bowl of “I’ve died and gone to heaven” peppery lobster bisque; I had some delightful salmon over lightly refreshing tabouleh; we ended our meal with a rich chocolate ganache.
Love this place! I call it a Manhattan tree house. Tucked beside The Public Theater, the interior celebrates wood – chairs made out of trunks, young saplings cover the walls and ceilings, cozy little corners with fireplaces, two bars (one up, one down), and circular booths set a sexy but low-key atmosphere. We dined downstairs which features a glass wall that displays a floor-to-ceiling wine rack.
We both had soup for our first course; my friend had a delightfully rich butternut squash that came with popcorn while I had a creamy, subtle parsnip soup sprinkled with apples. Second course, I had ravioli while she had a softly flaking piece of savory salmon. Back to chocolate, our dessert was a salted caramel tiramisu-ish delight. We were so full we had to take a pause before polishing of the adult version of a kitkat bar. We oohed and aahhed and mmmmed our way through. We also had an adorable waiter named Kevin. After a couple hours of food worship, we departed feeling fat and happy.
A friend was in town for the evening, so I was tasked with planning our evening. My office just moved to midtown and he was coming into Times Square so finding something in that area was challenging since I’m still “new” to it. He’s adventuresome so I wanted to find something a little different. Originally, we were going to go to National Underground but it was too far downtown, so as I was searching for places nearby that had live music I came across Uncle Vanya’s.
The place looks like someone’s apartment – there is a couch, upright piano, and bookshelves in the entryway with a small dining room adjacent. Neither of us were familiar with Russian cuisine, so we took the waiter up on his recommendation of Salmon Kulibiaka and Chicken Vanya. Our appetizer of Herring & Potatoes was savory. My mushroom-stuffed salmon came inside a pastry and my friend’s chicken was simple but wonderfully herb-ed. A couple glasses of wine and we were complete. We also enjoyed the cup of crayons for creative amusement. It was a great dinner with fun music including the gregarious crowd of Russians celebrating a birthday.
In between feasting my way through the city, my crockpot had its inaugural mission! I made a huge pot of chili that has sustained my roommate and me through the bitter cold winds of January.
I also will be resuming my running regimen to recover from all this banqueting…