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71 Clinton Fresh Food


yvonne johnson
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Dinner at 71 Clinton Fresh Food (71 Clinton Street (bet. Rivington & Stanton), 614-6960 on Saturday. We didn’t manage to eat there when Wylie Dufresne was at the helm, but the chef, Matt Reguin (who I believe was Dufresne’s sous chef for a time), is producing exceptionally good food.

My starter, a special, was Tasmanian trout (I think there is a discussion with Adam Balic on this fish somewhere) was salmon-like, served at room temperature, barely cooked/cured—hard to tell—on top of a vegetable or roots (I’m not doing a very good job) that resembled soft bean sprouts. On top was a very thin spread of roe and chives. This dish was so light, delicious and, yes, fresh. I tasted g.’s Nantucket bay scallops (small and sweet) with blood orange, frisee & fennel as well as the potato, applewood smoked bacon and goat cheese tart which had a lovely, flaky pastry. Appetizers: $8-$12.

Next I had diver sea scallops. These were big, sautéed till golden, sitting on a bed of tiny cubes of Serrano ham, salsify and green apples. G. had organic Wagyu sirloin, potato puree, porcinis, chard & bone marrow with red wine reduction and he said this was of the best dishes he’s had at a restaurant in quite a while. I tasted the potato and I think it’s the creamiest and tastiest I’ve had when out. Our friend was pleased with his sea bass. Mains: $19-$27.

Mason 2000, Veilles Vigne, reminiscent of a red sancerre. A little cold, though, when presented.

Our friend and I found the desserts—1. apple cobbler with ice cream that had a hint of ginger and 2. the chocolate sponge with peanut butter flavored cream within and accompanied by ice cream with peanut brittle on outside—uninteresting compared to what had come before. G liked them more, though he thought they were under-sweetened.

The space is not much bigger than a postage stamp. There were around 30 diners and a handful of people at the bar, and although the banquets are very comfortable, it feels very crushed with tables an inch apart. Nonetheless, we were very happy and the service, in the main, was efficient and friendly.

Its sister restaurant (Alias at 76 Clinton) and café (aka at 49) might be worth a try.

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  • 1 year later...

I am going to 71 Clinton Fresh Food (I wish they would shorten that name) on Saturday night and was curious if anyone has been there recently.

The restaurant's replacement for Wylie Dufrense, Matt Renguin, left in February and the kitchen is now headed by a 27 year old chef named Jason Neroni who was most recently the chef de cuisine at the Tasting Room.

I did have a couple of his dishes when I stopped in there for a late snack a couple of months ago. A ragout of crispy sweet breads and crawfish tails was good enough to make me want to return. However the other two dishes I tried I did not care for. A Tasmanian trout tatare was over powered by pickled mustard seeds and the silky texture of the fish was disrupted by the addition of pine nuts. A poached foie gras dish just did not work with the foie gras being flabby and lacking in flavor.

I will report back.

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I am going to 71 Clinton Fresh Food (I wish they would shorten that name) on Saturday night and was curious if anyone has been there recently.

I was there a month or two ago. My friend and I were underwhelmed. Nothing bad about the food, but its reputation had led us to expect something special. Unmemorable is the word I'd use. I've no itch to return.

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We were there within the last month and enjoyed dinner. Not to be confused with the top places int he city, but very good and a decent value. Service was a little wanting though.

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I had dinner at 71 Clinton this past Saturday night. As I mentioned in a previous post, I was encouraged to eat there after trying one dish at the bar a couple of months ago, a delicious ragout of crawfish tails and crispy sweat breads.

Well, like the song "Too shy, shy" was for Kajagoogoo, the dish I had seems to have been a one hit wonder for chef Jason Neroni. At 27, he is young and clearly has potential, it simply was not on display the evening I ate there.

The food at 71 Clinton is not bad, it is simply not at all memorable, completely misses in some dishes and seems to be driven by a chef trying too hard.

The first thing that struck me was the layout. I am fully aware of how tight margins are in the restaurant business and how important it is to maximize table space, however, 71 Clinton is an extreme. The majority of the tables are lined up against the main wall opposite the bar. While the tables are individuall you might as well been sitting at a communal one. There was literaly about 4 inches between each table, anytime someone seated against the wall wanted to exit, a table had to be completely pulled out. Not to mention that you were sharing the conversation with the table on either side of you while having to shout to have your own.

I started with an order of frogs legs and the girl I was with ordered diver scallops. I appreciate a restuarant offering frogs legs, but this preperation was very dull. A few sauteed frogs legs, whose meat had been pushed down to one end in a lollipop fashion stood in a bowl, then a waiter came by with a small pitcher and poured a warm clear broth or consume over the dish. The pouring of a clear broth is a big thing at 71 Clinton and would show up again with our entrees. If I had to guess, I would say the broth was vegetable, either way, it was devoid of much taste and added nothing to the dish but liquid.

My dinner date faired better with two large and plump diver scallops, nicely seared on ither side. Served with what was described as an olive nage, the scallops were very sweet and barely cooked inside.

For entrees, I had what was described as slow cooked duck breast with smoked red pepper consume and truffled baby lettuce, my date had cod with mixed vegetables, licorice and brown butter fume.

I am passionate about duck and as much as I loath chicken breast, I love it off of a duck. What an easy thing to prepare, a rich dark meat, a skin that crisps so nicely and a layer of fat to flavor the flesh. Imagaine my dissapointemnt then when I was presented with a bowl containing four or five batons of skinless duck meat. It was unrecognizable cut as it was in perfect rectangles and the taste, what taste? The duck meat was tough, it took 8 strokes of my knife to cut through it (I counted). It was devoid of much flavor, with the taste and texture of a dull piece of beef. Ah, but here comes the waiter to pour a consume over the meat. As Julia Child would say, add butter. Add some kind of fat to carry the taste, it is bad enough the kitchen stripped the poor bird of its skin, put some kind of fat back in the dish. I imagine this kind of dish being served at the Canyon Ranch.

A small deep bowl of salad that came with the duck made no sense. The lettuce leaves were too big to eat whole (a pet peeve of mine), you could not cut them in the small bowl and I could not put them on my dish which was filled with a tasteless consume.

My date's cod was cooked well, just barely done throug the center and topped with a gray foam. Yes, a foam. Are we not pass this silly stage in food preperation? It added nothing to the dish and looked odd. It reminded me of when I as a kid and I would put bubble bath suds on my head.

We did not stay for dessert. Once outside I asked my date if she felt satisfied, bless her heart she said no. It was 11:00 PM and I took her straight to Casa Mono for a second, and entirely satisfying dinner. G-D Bless Andy Nusser.

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Imagaine my dissapointemnt then when I was presented with a bowl containing four or five batons of skinless duck meat. It was unrecognizable cut as it was in perfect rectangles and the taste, what taste? The duck meat was tough, it took 8 strokes of my knife to cut through it (I counted). It was devoid of much flavor, with the taste and texture of a dull piece of beef. Ah, but here comes the waiter to pour a consume over the meat.

I had the same duck entrée, and while I don't recall the meat being tough, it was as unexciting as Artichoke describes.

I also share his views about the layout, and the extreme proximity of your table to those on either side.

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A young woman who waited on a friend and me noticed that we were swapping plates and utensils and came over with reinforcements, which we waved away.

"You aren't afraid of cooties?" she said archly.

On one night, it took endless sawing to penetrate a tough duck breast. On another, the cod we were served had an unpleasantly grainy texture. By marked contrast, both the white and dark meat in a chicken entree were spectacularly succulent. That meat was crowned by gorgeous morels and skirted by a lobster reduction.

71 Clinton Fresh Food (Frank Bruni) (from the NYTimes DIGEST for Wednesday, 25 August 2004. Scroll down for the appropriate link.)

Heavens to Betsy!

Soba

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Frank Bruni gave two stars to 71 Clinton this morning. Having just eaten there this past Saturday (my review is in an earlier post) night and having had a couple of dishes at the bar a couple of months ago, I think Bruni is way off.

Yes, the young 27 year old chef, Jason Neroni has potential, but, trust me, he did not "boldly" remake the menu. There is nothing bold about about Neroni's food, I wish there were. There was a glimpse of boldness when he was serving a delicious ragu of crayfish tails and crispy sweet breads a couple of months ago, but that is no longer available. Instead there are skinless, tough duck breast, foams and pallid consumes pourd over dishes.

I did not find the trout tartare "riveting", unless that is the adjective one uses when a chef crams as many flavors as possible into one dish. Raw trout has a delicate taste and sillky texture, which gets completely lost when combined with mustard seeds, chorizo oil, and pine nuts.

Bruni describes a skate wing "with a foam that mingles flavors in a tantalizing way, rendering each of them almost discernable but not quite, like a word on the tip of your tongue." Does it really Frank? Is the foam taste like a word on the tip of your tongue? What the hell is that? Is Amanda Hesser ghost writing for Bruni? I long for the days of Bryan Miller when restaurant reviews read like restaurant reviews, not something out of a freshman creative writing class.

Bruni is correct when he sites the cramped spacing of the tables. He is also dead on when he writes of "endless sawing to penetrate a tough duck breast." I felt his pain with that dish.

I will close with this beauty "when one of my friends waded into a salad of dandelion and pea greens, arugula, heirloom tomatoes and purple and yellow flowers, he happily sighed, 'This is like an antidepressant.' Frank, time for some new friends.

71 Clinton

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Frank Bruni gave two stars to 71 Clinton this morning. Having just eaten there this past Saturday (my review is in an earlier post) night and having had a couple of dishes at the bar a couple of months ago, I think Bruni is way off.

We have often debated the extent that ambiance figures in the final NYT rating. At 71CFF, you can't even escape the banquettes without having to pull your table into the center of the room. That's not two-star ambiance. The question is whether the food is enough to compensate. On the strength of my one visit, the answer was clearly no. Unfortunately, I seem to have ordered the worst dish on the menu -- the duck. If this is two stars, then the rest of the menu must be an awful lot better.

Mind you, I did not suffer at 71CFF, but a one-star restaurant isn't a bad restaurant, and one star is about what I felt 71CFF deserved. However, I must add the caveat that Frank Bruni probably tried the place 4 or 5 times, and I've been there only once.

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But then there is inescapable fact that a restaurant tries to reach for a certain number of stars (given the premise that it will be reviewed by the NYT at some point), so all of the factors -- food, ambiance and service -- strive towards that end goal.

Some places such as Babbo achieve their mark and stick with it. Others such as Asiate have a projected mark and rarely achieve it. Still others (*cough* Spice Market *cough*) often leave mere mortals scratching their heads at the critics' wisdom.

Soba

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Artichoke's review of the review was much better than Bruni's review of the restaurant. I just wish Bruni would concentrate on writing about the food and the restaurant, rather than attempting to be the Dylan Thomas or John Keats of food writers.

Edited by rich (log)

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

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Perhaps it is my conspiratorial nature, but did anyone get the impression Bruni's review of 71 Clinton was a subtle dig at WD-50? He gave 71 Clinton the same two stars Grimes ( I think) gave WD-50, but Bruni's was a more upbeat two stars. Are there certain factors at work beneath the surface?

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Perhaps it is my conspiratorial nature, but did anyone get the impression Bruni's review of 71 Clinton was a subtle dig at WD-50? He gave 71 Clinton the same two stars Grimes ( I think) gave WD-50, but Bruni's was a more upbeat two stars. Are there certain factors at work beneath the surface?

That seems like a reach...

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  • 2 months later...

There hasn't been anything added to this thread in a while, but I dined there this evening, so I figured I would contribute my thoughts on the place.

It was my first time here, and I have to admit arrived with a little hesitation about the place. I had wanted to eat at WD-50 instead, as I have been dying to try that place for a while now. But the friend I was with seemed insistent that we eat at 71 Clinton instead, so we ended up there. Sometimes I am too nice, but whatever. Luckily, we ended up having a very tasty meal.

We ordered the tasting menu ($55 without wine, $80 with wine pairings) since we both thought the five courses offered would suit our tastes very well. Turns out we were right :wink: Anyway, on the the food:

First course --- Cured sardines with radish, pickled fennel, green apple, some type of gelee, and some other mystery ingredients we couldn't hear because our waiter kept mumbling :biggrin: Whatever those other ingredients were, they all worked well together. The nice tart flavor of the apple cut through the normally briny flavor of the sardines, the gelee added a very flavorful top note, and none of the ingredients seemed to go to waste (which is a weakness of many salad-type appetizers in my opinion. Every single ingredient added something different to each bite, which was very nice.

Second course --- Coddled egg, Maine sea urchin, crème fraîche, caramelized onions, shallots, coarse black pepper. Mmmm. This one was good. Once you first go the egg, and the yolk oozes out over everything, it assumes a rich soup-like consistency. The sea urchin added something different to what could have otherwise perhaps been an over-simplified dish. Again, the flavors in this dish just seemed to work well together.

Third course --- Cod with olive oil something-or-other, potatoes, olives, some more mumbling from the waiter :angry: This was the least exciting of the five dishes. It was good, don't get me wrong, there was just nothing special about it. The fish had a nice light texture, and the olive oil was used sparingly enough that it didn't drown out the flavor of the fish. Decent flavors, but overall, forgettable.

Fourth course --- Rabbit Bolognese with preserved lemon gnocchi and tomato confit with pignoli nuts, olives, and shaved parmiggiano-reggiano. The definite favorite of the evening for my friend and I. :wub: The gnocchi were pillowy and light, just the way good gnocchi ought to be. The bolognese sauce was deep and rich in flavor. The olives were unnecessary in my opinion, but then again, I hate olives, so perhaps I am a little biased against their use in the dishes I eat :cool: The pignoli nuts added a nice textural counterplay against the soft gnocchi. We both proceeded to use the bread on the table to soak up every last little bit of the wonderful bolognese sauce, so this dish was a definite hit.

Dessert Course --- Warm chocolate cake with peanut butter ganache with vanilla bean ice cream. Ooooh, this one was tasty. I am normally not a huge chocolate fan, but this one really impressed me. The thing I loved was the saltiness of the peanut butter ganache. That nice top note of flavor really made me appreciate every single bite of that dessert. I would definiely get that again if I ever make it back there.

The portion sizes worked well for us. We both left full, but not overly stuffed. I can't comment on the wine pairings, as I do not drink, but my friend did seem to enjoy the wines, especially the one served with the second course.

The service, unlike the food, was terrible. Being Halloween night, there were very few people in the restaurant, yet you wouln't have known that based on the service we got. The first course took almost a half hour to come out after we had ordered, which is pretty ridiculous. We complained about this, yet no apology or explanation was given. They seemed intent on taking my friend's plates before he had finished. Very unnecessary if you ask me, considering they obviously did not need to turn the table over for any pressing reason. We were abandoned for what seemed like forever after we had finished the dessert course. Once we handed them the credit cards to pay the check, they took almost 15 minutes to come back to the table. I mean, cmon now, how hard is it to swipe a credit card, tear a receipt, and come back to the table 6 feet away? So, yeah, overall, service is clearly not very responsive at this particular restaurant.

Also, the proximity of the tables is almost comical. There is maybe 3" separating the tables. We were lucky enough to be seated in corner, but the whole night, we noticed people having to slide tables in and out just to be seated, to exit, or to get up to go to the bathroom, etc. Pretty ridiculous and unnecessary, if you ask me.

But anyway, despite the weak service, the good food did turn the night into a good experience overall. I found the $55 price tag for the tasting menu to be a nice value considering the quality of what we got tonight. I cannot vouch for the consistency of this place, as this was the first time I have been, but I can say that this visit was very nice. Would I go back??? Maybe so, maybe not. Next time I am in that neighborhood, it will be to go to WD-50. But 71 Clinton Fresh Foods does present a nice backup place anytime you want to eat in the LES, but don't want venison tartare with edemame ice cream :biggrin:

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  • 1 year later...
NY Times reporting that 71 Clinton Fresh Food closing down in mid March.

Article here.

Kudos to Ms. Fabricant for acknowledging her source, especially as it was an online source ("As reported at thestrongbuzz.com"). It's interesting that the leaseholders intend to sell the lease back to the landlord. It means they're paying much less than current market value and able to profit by the change in the neighborhood and increasing rents. In this case, they're also sharing in the profit of a situation which they helped create, I suppose, by being one of the pioneers in bringing destination food to the neighborhood. It is however, a signal to the rest of us that rents are rising and that restaurateurs will have to pass that overhead cost on to diners and that chefs will have less freedom to be creative.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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...It is however, a signal to the rest of us that rents are rising and that restaurateurs will have to pass that overhead cost on to diners and that chefs will have less freedom to be creative.

Exactly... NYC needs more steakhouses :laugh:

Arley Sasson

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  • 3 weeks later...

I finally made it to 71cff tonight. Man, am I pissed! No, it's not the food, the service, or the ambience. It's the fact that I waited until three days before it closes forever to enjoy a meal there.

The food was was mostly sensational...at worst it was just very good. Standouts were a coddled egg with uni, pickeled shallots, maple syrup, creme fraiche, and pedro ximinez; a confit of foie gras with bbq'd unagi, brioche croutons, and almond milk foam; and a roasted sea bass with thai lobster bisque, cilantro, coconut, and bananas. It was so good that I feel like breaking something.

Maybe the whole closing thing is just a cruel joke. :sad:

Edited by iheartoffal (log)

Nothing to see here.

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It's the fact that I waited until three days before it closes forever to enjoy a meal there. 

Maybe the whole closing thing is just a cruel joke.  :sad:

Normally I am on top of these things but 71 is closing Fri.? I was looking forward to macerating on my couch for a few days, but alas it looks like I will have to head in soon.

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did you have the tasting menu? I'm going for the first time tomorrow.

I did have the tasting, but with a couple of extra courses.

According to their website they're closing the 14th, Tuesday.

Really? My souces told me saturday was the last day. Hmm, perhaps I'll be able to get there again. :smile:

Nothing to see here.

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