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Last night your faithful servant, He Who Only Eats, and the Johnsons met at Prune for a completely unofficial dinner. The short report: YUM. But who ever gives a short report here? Not I. :blush:

Prune, 54 East 1st Street, between First and Second Avenues.

Small place, with small tables, hard surfaces, somewhat-too-loud music, large strong cocktails, and waitstaff who frequently refill your wine glass -- all of which contribute to making the place rather noisy and cramped (lots of "Excuse me. Sorry" as people bump into you). Nice large restroom, though. A more private room downstairs, from which raucous laughter easily drifts up to the main dining room. Faux-bistro-ish look -- lovely zinc bar, flaking mirrors, etc. Very good to have a reservation on a Saturday night -- it fills up.

And, in spite of the noise and physical drawbacks, it fills up with good reason. The food is terrific. The portions are BIG. The waitstaff is enthusiastic, and can describe the food and wine very well. (Although they do pull the "remove plates even if someone in the party is still eating" number, which we did NOT appreciate.)

I can't describe Yvonne's Pisco Sour, which was served in a highball glass, but she and G. seemed to like it. My Gibson -- which I ordered because they have house-pickled onions -- was also generous. I probably shouldn't have had it, but oh those onions. :smile:

We each ordered a different appetizer, and traded tastes. Any one might have worked as an entree. Well, maybe not G.'s quail, but it had so much flavor and tenderness a little went a long way. Yvonne's sweetbreads looked like a complete set, maybe 2. First cooked to velvety texture, then breaded and deep-fried. She can finish the description. HWOE ordered the duck pastrami with a rye omelet -- the thin, faintly rye-flavored eggs wrapped around some diced ?bacon? -- anyway, it was plenty, and good. My grilled shrimp with anchovy sauce turned out to be three head-on U-10s (the monster size), grilled just to the point of complete cooking, but not beyond, so they were juicy and tender. The somewhat salty sauce (anchovy, after all) complemented the sweetness of the shrimp very well. If I hadn't shared, I would have been able to have just that for a meal.

For entrees, both couples ordered the same pair of dishes: braised rabbit in a vinegar sauce, and roast suckling pig. We had already decided on these when I asked the waiter her favorites: and those were the first two she mentioned. (I asked not so much for the advice, but to make sure that I could trust her -- I mean, what if she had said "Oh, I don't eat meat," or fish, or whatever -- can you trust a waiter in that case? I don't think so.) We -- and she -- were right. Both were quite good. The pig was a large portion of soft meat and super-crisp skin, with one salad of black-eyed peas and sliced cornichons, and another ("pickled tomatoes") of halved grape tomatoes with sliced halapenos. Even with the vinaigrettes, though, the whole plate was very, VERY rich. The rabbit, also very tender, was a bit too mild and chicken-like. But the sauce was nicely tangy. And again, the portion was monstrous.

Since we had been told that everything was a la carte (in spite of the clearly-stated accompaniments to the pig), we got 2 vegetable sides -- served family style -- as well. Cipollini (small, sweet Italian onions) in a sweet-and-sour sauce, and a combo of cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and baby turnips, in a buttery sauce including whole-grain mustard. Even HWOE, who hates brussel sprouts, liked them all (turnips the best, though.)

With all this, we had Peachy Canyon Winery Eastside Zinfandel, 2000, from Paso Robles, CA. Two bottles, in fact. Well, the waiter kept topping up our glasses, and none of us stopped her. :rolleyes:

We couldn't even finish our two desserts: a pistachio pithivier with buttermilk ice cream and fresh blackberries, and a Breton butter cake that must have been a bit more butter than dough, served with a glass of Muscat. Not that we didn't want to; we just COULDN'T.

Chef Gabrielle Hamilton makes gutsy food. We liked it. :biggrin:

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Thanks for the great review. I'm now tempted to check the place out. I have to say, though, that while microscopic, expensive portions are infuriating, tremendous portions aren't always the best thing, either. I remember writing a review of the Italian place on 10th St. just west of Av. B and saying something to the effect that it was good that the appetizer and main dish weren't too big because that left room for a dessert (the chestnut flan) that was by far the highlight of an otherwise good meal. Bux responded to the effect that my remark demonstrated that I like to dine, not just eat. Suzanne, your review makes it amply clear that you are clearly someone who likes to dine and not just eat, if that were ever in doubt. So would you not have rather that the portions were a bit smaller?

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Yes, Pan, I would have preferred that the portions were somewhat smaller. And I think they could be, and one would still be satisfied, because all the flavors were so strong. But when the food is that tasty, there is the temptation to eat more than one needs to, sometimes with negative consequences. Not that I'm complaining; no doggy bags last night. :biggrin: When (not if) I go back, I'll know better how to order to get all the joy without the uh-oh in the middle of the night. :sad:

That said, I assume that Chef Gabrielle knows exactly what she is doing, since the place has been open for quite a while now and is obviously quite popular. I've enjoyed pieces by her that I read, and now I have all the more reason to admire her skills of management as well as cooking.

BTW, it was Yvonne who suggest eating there, so I've really got to thank her publicly. :biggrin:

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I love what Gabrielle Hamilton is doing at PRUNE. Very fine cook, smart, cool menu (including an exact reproduction of Fergus Henderson's bone marrow app--my single favorite dish in the world) substantial flavor, human-size portions, great crew . It's always a pleasure to go there. And Gabrielle can indeed write--and well. ( Note to editors/publishers) Every day she DOESN'T write the chick version of Kitchen Confidential she's missing out on a nice-sized score. One of my favorite chefs in NYC.

abourdain

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Suzanne did such a fine job. A couple of notes:

Able bar staff: a very nice, fresh pisco sour with slices of orange and lemon.

A little bowl holding popadums are offered when seated. Not bad as a nibble on arrival, but I’d like some bread at some point. Also, the popadums don’t seem to match the food.

My sweetbreads had a lovely buttery texture, a crispy, deep-fried exterior and they came with a lemon-caper sauce. But, my, I had around seven chunks—definitely main course size platter. A minor quibble: I vaguely suspected that they’d been deep fried in the same oil as fish or oysters.

I was very happy with my braised rabbit—two large legs, in a thin, very flavorful stock. The meat wasn’t at all stringy and made me think it was probably farmed rabbit. I tasted G.’s suckling pig along with crackling (hurrah) and it resembled pulled pork. I thought the salads and sour cream that came with it made a creative match. You know what I’d have liked with this? Tortillas.

The desserts were fantastic. The pistachio pithivier was gooey and delicious and the berries superb.

There are tables around two walls and a couple of tables in the middle of the room (we were at one in the middle). If making a res try to get a table along the edge of the room partly protected by a wall, as—as Suzanne noted--the wait-staff bump into you all night if you are in the middle.

A very enjoyable meal and recommended.

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I love what Gabrielle Hamilton is doing at PRUNE.  Very fine cook, smart, cool menu (including an exact reproduction of Fergus Henderson's bone marrow app--my single favorite dish in the world) ...

How's it prepared? I love marrow bones and am always on the lookout for a new way to serve them.

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How's it prepared?

Carelessly. You're much better off trying the bone marrow at Blue Ribbon or anywhere else where the kitchen understands the effect of size on cooking time. My experience with the marrow at prune left me feeling very much like goldilocks responding to the bears' porridges...

In any event, I think this thread is quite indicative of why the level of New York restaurant is not higher. If you can please people (eGulletarians even) by serving them dishes 'flavored' with fish, uncooked bone marrow and suckling pig that can't even compete with the typical street festival offering, why try any harder?

Edited by Orik (log)
M
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Orik -- Not that it's my fault, but I'm sorry you so disliked your meal there. But that does not mean that everyone else has to view the experience as poorly. Chacun à son goût.

We didn't have the marrow -- although it was considered -- so I can't comment on the quality of preparation at Prune.

I don't doubt Yvonne's palate, she had considerably more of the sweetbreads than the rest of us. And if she is correct, perhaps we should bring that complaint to the chef's attention. That sort of problem persists only when it goes undetected. It does seem fairly unlikely, though, that your parallel complaint about your steak holds, unless it was also deep-fried. Was it?

I would love to know where the street festivals are with suckling pig. To be honest, the only one I go to regularly that has it is 9th Avenue, and I don't try it there, only kokoretsi and spit-roasted quail or partridge. Please let us know where we can find better.

And as you can well imagine, I disagree with you about the level of restaurants in NYC. I would not put Prune at the highest level that NY has to offer, nor do I expect anyone else here would. Not every restaurant can -- or should -- aspire to Jean Georges-hood (or, god help us, Ducasse-hood, where I had one of the worst dishes of my life). And not all of us can, or should, eat at that level with any frequency. You didn't like the place. Others do. That neither elevates you nor lowers them. [/schoolmarm mode]

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Mr Brown, I hope you're busy with your Atelier report, sir. :wink:

As for bone marrow, we discussed on another thread the perils of undercooking, and I have had it undercooked several times in NYC - never tried Prune's. Much as I admire Fergus Henderson, I can't see that we should regard other roast bone marrows as "reproductions" of his dish. My recollection is that they serve it at St John with some toast and some rock salt; just like they do at restaurants all over France. If I am missing a particular Henderson refinement, I apologize. Now, fried breadcrumbed pig tails I do associate with him.

Edited by Wilfrid (log)
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I love what Gabrielle Hamilton is doing at PRUNE.  Very fine cook, smart, cool menu (including an exact reproduction of Fergus Henderson's bone marrow app--my single favorite dish in the world) substantial flavor, human-size portions, great crew . It's always a pleasure to go there.  And Gabrielle can indeed write--and well. ( Note to editors/publishers)  Every day she DOESN'T write the chick version of Kitchen Confidential she's missing out on a nice-sized score.  One of my favorite chefs in NYC.

That woman can write.

When I read her essays I think of all the writing that is NOT being done because she is in the kitchen. Then again, if I were to eat at Prune I would probably worry that her writing was taking away from her cooking.

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Coming in late to this thread, I will only add that of two meals at Prune, Dinner and brunch both were disappointing. I say this with regret as I live a few blocks from Prune and I wanted to like it. The most memorable dish at dinner

was succotash and my entree pork cooked in milk,, was tough , dry and stringy. This was a couple of years ago and I don't remember too much about the other dishes except that all four of us were not pleased. My gargantuan

portion of a heavy , fruit crumble was practically inedible. I returned for brunch

hoping that this meal would be better, it wasn't. Now admittedly, two meals

is perhaps not a fair test, however, I would much rather go to the tasting room, down the street. I much prefer it to Prune.

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It makes me sad to read bad experiences at Prune, its like one of those things that you so enjoy and want everyone else to have as good an experience. When we lived in NY we probably had dinner at Prune around twice a month. I only had one not great dinner there and (I've read that she does not like hearing this) I chalked it up to a bad night in the kitchen, especially since she was not there that evening.

Conversely, I was very excited about all that I heard concerning tasting room... was disappointed the first time, went back and was disappointed the second and never tried it again. Maybe I should have given it another chance.

We did try brunch once, at Prune and were not amazed. But dinner was always outstanding.

And Prune's papadums are the best I've ever had... her pomme frites are no slouch either, and seasonal fresh veggies are always mouthwateringly wonderful.

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  • 1 month later...

Dinner at Prune this evening after a couple of drinks at the entirely agreeable DBA.

The room itself is a bit pokey but the initial service was good, so one made allowances

We started with the monkfish livers and the sweetbreads. Both were disappointing. The liver was an excellent ingredient but the way it was served with hot buttered bread ( not great bread BTW ) was a total misfire. The sweetbreads were better but the coating was more of a batter than a crust and this served to keep the excellent meat protected and they were very moist.

To follow we ordered one more starter and one main. The appetizer of roast marrowbone salad was identical to that at St John in London and the waitress confirmed that it was taken from there EDIT: didn't read the thread so didn't see Toby B's comments ) It was actually pretty good. The suckling pig main course was OK. The crackling was poor but the aoili served with the pork served to counteract the dryness of the meat.

Side orders of chestnut puree ( soupy and very nasty indeed ) and bitter greens ( cabbage by any other name ) were a pointeless expenditure

A dessert of chocolate grenache was very nice and they aced the mint tea test.

With a glass of sherry to begin and a decent RIbero to follow, a bill of $150 inc tip was on the steep side. Service was good, friendly and efficient if perfunctory.

It was fine, and I was in Joyous company, but I would not rush back

5/10

S

Edited by Simon Majumdar (log)
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Side orders of chestnut puree ( soupy and very nasty indeed ) and bitter greens ( cabbage by any other name ) were a pointeless expenditure

Just to show you where a different orientation gets you, I think the chestnuts at Prune are possibly the single best side dish in the city. They seem to make them in a double recipe style like they would make refried beans, where they cook a batch until they are almost mushy and then add a secondf batch so their are whole but soft chestnuts in the dish. And then they add that dreamy and silky double rich chicken stock of theirs. Just fantastic stuff and a testament to hearty cooking.

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and bitter greens ( cabbage by any other name ) were a pointeless expenditure

Is there an English interpreter in the house?

Does cabbage in England "English" mean greens like chickory, arugula, etc.?

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this week i found myself at both prune and the tasting room within three days of each other. what incredibly different experiences--aside from the service, as we were guests of staff at both establishments, for all sense of purposes.

i'd much rather have a table at the TR. and they're not that difficult to come by, relatively speaking. we were way too crowded at prune--clearly not there to be *seen*, which is the only reason i might see actually not minding the setup there. unless you're really used to eating in paris, where there's no space between tables, generally speaking. needless to say, we couldn't get much work done there.

the food at the TN has so much more finesse & style. such a delightfully *incongruous* way about it in this regard, as the wine list is all american....:raz::raz: not that there aren't esoteric productions on the list, which there are. and the wine service is impeccable, with the proprietor available if you so choose to solicit his assistance. one byo, one buy off the list is the policy. very generous.

creamed chestnuts at prune were of a displeasing consistency. oatmeal-like, and milky; without a contrast in flavors.......?

i don't get them.

i'll reread plots & others posts if i have time.

also, it's april, though.

but the braised escarole (suvir's *bitter greens*, that brit) was also medium-poor. imbalanced, with way way, way to large of a *pinch* of nutmeg, which made them bitter. and underseasoned at that.

breaded sweetbreads could've been an entree, i swear. too heavy. moist, i'll have you, but it just left my date full after a gifted app & before an entree.

oh, but they do have foreau vouvray for $33 there. delicious. lots of non-u.s. wines, as a matter of fact (relatively speaking, i guess).

rabbit legs in a butter-laden broth. is it april?

although he did have a whole branzino. that was nice & refreshing.

tasing room rocked. just outstanding, everything on the list (we had chef's menus). just to get back to the point of this thread & post.

anyone go to WD50 soft opening this week?

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Ok, back now with my thoughts on the meal here with Simon.

We were warned ahead of time by Cabrales that the apps were huge, and indeed they were.

The monkfish liver was broiled in a soy based sauce and served with buttered, toasted bread. I do agree with Simon that the bread was unnecessary, and only ate a small portion of the liver with the bread.

The sweetbreads were creamy, however the dish was billed as sweetbreads with bacon and as I recall there were only two smallish pieces of bacon :shock: Capers and a lemony sauce were a nice addition to cut through the rich taste.

The chestnut puree, I just don't get. La Nina, whose opinion I hold in high esteem called this dish "something I could eat all day long." I had a bite and wasn't moved. It was lumpy, lukewarm and just not that tasty.

The suckling pig was not dry at all. Simon was clearly "jetlagged" or what Americans call falling down drunk. The black eyed pea salad and tomatoes were an appropriately vinegary counterpart.

There were other things on the menu that I look forward to trying, and the monkfish liver is a dish that I would definitely repeat.

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  • 2 months later...

Brunch this am at Prune nothing short of stellar:

Braised beef tongue omelet with gremolata and marrow bone on the side. Exquisite "Prune Juice:" freshly squeezed lemon, lime, orange, tangerine and grapefruit. Huge tho: I ate about half the omelet.

edit: finished the marrow :rolleyes:

Edited by lissome (log)

Drinking when we are not thirsty and making love at all seasons: That is all there is to distinguish us from the other Animals.

-Beaumarchais

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Thank you Pan. As far as brunch goes, I found it extraordinary. When was the last time you had memorable eggs?

What's gremolata?

parsley, garlic and lemon peel (or sometimes though not in this case orange peel) mince. used on osso buco

Edited by lissome (log)

Drinking when we are not thirsty and making love at all seasons: That is all there is to distinguish us from the other Animals.

-Beaumarchais

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  • 6 months later...

Birthday dinner Sunday night at Prune (celebrating my 33rd b'day which passed this past Thursday -- Xmas Day for those of you who are calendar challenged :blink::biggrin: -- plain old December 25 as far as I'm concerned.):

Roasted marrow bones [parsley salad, toast points] (me)

Breaded sweetbreads and bacon (my companion)

Dry-aged steak in a port-wine reduction, parsley butter (me)

Can't remember what he had. Chicken, I think. But not sure.

We also had a side of stewed chestnuts with fresh ricotta. This was a high point of the dinner.

Orange sherbet (stunningly fresh and sweet. There was a second flavor that I eventually manged to pinpoint to buttermilk. A bit unusual, imo.) (me)

Apple galette with rosewater and orange sauce (my companion)

Not bad, although the bits of pickle in the parsley salad that accompanied the roast marrow bones were a bit of a surprise and off-putting. The sherbet might have been better if they had left the buttermilk out and used regular milk instead. The steak was an unusually fatty piece of steak, but otherwise tolerable.

I note that after the two tables next to us left, the sound level in the room reduced considerably.

I give the experience a 6 out of a possible 10, meaning that I might come back....in about nine or ten months. Not a "go-to" place in my book, although my companion thought otherwise. :hmmm::blink:

Soba

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  • 3 months later...

Tonight had a killer meal at Prune. Ate there over a year ago. Waited a month for the reservation. Got squeezed in between two loud table, had no room psychologically or otherwise. Decided not to go back until Gabrielle found a bigger space. Got tired of waiting and made an early res. Got the obligatory bone marrow. Like I said, killer. Particularly with the gherkins and sliced shallots. Then pulled goat. Oi. Still don't want to get squeezed into those little tables. . . but hats off to Prune. I'm going to have to find a way around it.

PS: In re uncooked marrow bone at Strip House. I know it was a long time ago but still needs correcting. They roast those bones in advance and then reheat them. Don't think you'd have a chance of getting the marrow out otherwise. What you got was a bone which was insufficiently reheated.

You shouldn't eat grouse and woodcock, venison, a quail and dove pate, abalone and oysters, caviar, calf sweetbreads, kidneys, liver, and ducks all during the same week with several cases of wine. That's a health tip.

Jim Harrison from "Off to the Side"

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  • 10 months later...

Best brunch i have had in a long minute.. Had 4 of the 8 offered bloody marys.. The bloddy bullshot being the best IMO. (beef boullion, tabasco, some other crap with a red stripe chaser included) Had the carbonera, my girl had the hostel breakfast... It was all fantastic. Place opens at 10 am, be there with in a half hour of it opening to put your name on the list.. Place is great!

Edited by Daniel (log)
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Best brunch i have had in a long minute.. Had 4 of the 8 offered bloody marys.. The bloddy bullshot being the best IMO. (beef boullion, tabasco, some other crap with a red stripe chaser included) Had the carbonera, my girl had the hostel breakfast... It was all fantabolous.. Place opens at 10 am, be there with in a half hour of it opening to put your name on the list.. Place is freakin great!

Thanks Daniel, can't wait! How was the Carbonara (I mean was it prepared without cream)? And are you sure it was great or is it the four Bloody Marys talking? :laugh:

Edited by emmapeel (log)

Emma Peel

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