Hudson Valley Restaurant Week is a great opportunity to try new restaurants, or revisit some of your old haunts. But it’s not just the chance to sample a new menu. For me, it’s about WHAT the chef puts on the menu.
Think about it for a second… Most of the traditional menus have several items to choose from, not to mention the daily specials they whip up every evening. But during restaurant week, the chef has to pare down those menus to three simple courses. Can you imagine how tough that must be? There are so many factors—pleasing customers’ wide range of tastes, balancing prices and supplies… Plus, there must be an incredible amount of pressure selecting the best of the best—in some cases, this is a restaurant’s change to get their foot in the door and show you what they’ve got.
This is what excites me… Yes, tasting the food can be an incredible experience. But I love to see what three course offerings hit menus this week.
Take 42 for example. If you’ve eaten at the top of the Ritz-Carlton in White Plains, you know Chef Anthony Goncalves is incredibly talented. I can’t even begin to think about the process of creating a paired down list from the amazing flavors on their regular menu.
Instead of taking the elevator all the way up for dinner, I decided to visit during lunch (a meal I had yet to enjoy at 42), and I must admit, I was not disappointed.
To start, Chef Goncalves offered a cold English pea soup, beet tartar and an arugula salad with candied pecans and brie triple cream. I opted for the fourth option—the fennel pollen cavatelli with lamb sausage and peppers. As the plate was placed in front of me, the smell of the smoky flavors made my mouth water. Although it was a pasta dish, it felt like a light start to the courses to come.
For courses two, I bypassed the smoked paccheri, skirt steak and salmon, deciding on the Portuguese fried chicken thigh. The cheddar cheese grits were incredibly creamy, and complimented the strong flavor of the garlicky kale. The outside of the chicken was crispy, yet moist inside. Although labeled as fried, the water explained the chicken was really baked. (Can I cross ten minutes off my cardio session?)
Dessert was certainly a treat. I’m not much of a sweets person myself, but the carrot cake trifle, oatmeal chocolate cherry cookie sandwich and the molten chocolate cake all sounded tempting. It was a toss up between chocolate and cherry ice cream, but I went with the latter and was thoroughly impressed by the taste and presentation.
42 at the Ritz-Carlton, One Renassiance Square, White Plains, 914-761-4242, www.42therestaurant.com