Uncorked! In New York Part 2
Robert K. Stephen (CSW)
(NEW YORK, NY) – March 2: The highlight of the day is set for 6 p.m. and that is dinner with friends at The Dutch rated as the #1 restaurant in New York in 2011 by Sam Sifton former New York Times food critic. However to imbibe a bit of culture it is off to the Jewish Museum on 5th Avenue at 92nd street marvellously accessible by subway and bus and what better way to enjoy New York above ground on the M line buses cruising along 5th Avenue. The Jewish Museum can be handled comfortably in a couple hours but what really has drawn me is a special exhibit of photography, Radical Camera New York’s Photo League 1936-51.
There are gritty photos depicting life primarily in New York by a group of photographers struggling to convey reality as interpreted through the camera lens. You will witness poverty, racism, joy and the wreckage of industrialization in many photographs some of them very moving. Two photographs shot in Harlem in 1947 showing two black youths playing “The Lynching Game” should cause chills to run up and down your spine. A 1948 photograph entitled “The Shadow of The Capitol” by Marian Palfi shows black children in squalor with the Capital Building dome in view. In a lighter note but nonetheless haunting due its black background is “Man Rushing in Bagels” by Arthur Felligs. The man’s apron is bathed in the flash of the camera so he looks like an angel carrying strings of bagels. There is a notable collection of photographs under the title “Harlem Document 1936-40.” This special exhibit ends March 25, 2012.
The permanent exhibits attempt to simplify Jewish, history, culture, tradition through art, photographs Judaica and music. All this is proper and museum like. Educational and enjoyable but not infused with enthusiasm like the photographic exhibit. Now the big surprise was Café Weissman at the basement level serving 100% Kosher food and eight different Kosher wines. Just about everything is handmade and the pride of the owner David Tegf is just about contagious. I don’t think I have ever seen someone so excited about food served and imploring me to make more time to listen to him and drop by when all his food was out on display instead of being taken away for the day. The lox is the big seller and the Lower East Side Lox pastrami style just begs to be sliced and chowed down on. (The Jewish Museum, 5th Avenue at 92nd, 212.423.3200). The Café Weissman is closed on Saturdays and Wednesdays. It strikes me as deserving some attention and exposure.
The Dutch is the 2011 pride and joy of Sam Sifton former restaurant critic of the New York Times. It is downtown in fashionable, perhaps overly fashionable Soho. It is certainly a relaxing and warm setting with its wood and leather bunkettes. The service is a tad formal. We get off to a bad start with no Sapphire Gin for a friend’s martini. But I am terribly impressed by the 7 American gins. The wine by the glass list is a bit thin but adequate. There are 24 Bourbons! Where are the American small craft vodkas! The menu is not extensive but if you have a smallish selection but do it well the smallish size can certainly be forgiven but I am so sad to say I do not think The Dutch deserves its rating. The Five Grain Salad $15 is mundane and quite starchy quite rather like the lemon meringue pie and rice pudding. I think there may be too many grains and not enough bets in the salad but the idea of grains is a good one. The Black Sea Bass, Mushrooms, crispy rice and Yuzu ($31) is tasty with crispy rice disintegrating rather quickly in the ravishing and smokey broth. The fries ($9) are perhaps the biggest disappointment as they are thin wispy and lack inspiration as their price would command. The Little Oysters sandwhiches ($5) are lovely crispy and breaded get a thumbs up! The cornbread that starts the meal is welcome break and very American but lacking the cornmeal grit I am accustomed to in my own homemade cornbread. The Spaghetti Black Kale Carbonara ($19) is bland, flat tasting and uninspiring so much so my dining companions calls it her worst disappointment in 3 years. The cauliflower side ($9) needs some intrigue as all cauliflower needs to be. In fact it is a bit sour. A restaurant with such a top rate critical review flies high in the sky like Apollo and you know the rest of the story. (The Dutch, 133 Sullivan Street, New York City, Telephone 212 677.6200) I am sick and tired of New York’s Meatpacking District. I am beginning to have that feeling about Soho. It’s becoming too hip and carnival like.
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