Sunday, August 17, 2008

Hearth

I must admit that I expected Hearth to be a far more rustic dining experience than it turned out to be. The name itself conjured up in me images of a wood fired oven turning out simple peasant food, I suppose I was expecting an experience closer to what one gets at Peasant on Elizabeth Street. What I got at Hearth was far closer in both spirit and execution to Craft, food that might be rooted in Italian tradition but with heavy modern, particularly American, influences.

And the room itself, which again given the name, could have been a eclectic menagerie of wood and brick is instead decidedly more modern. While it does have the exposed raw brick walls that I anticipated, it is only on the restaurants facade. The interior dining room is all metal and refined wood.
Hearth has a voluminous wine list with some pricey offerings as well as some fairly esoteric ones. It is also one of the wordiest lists I have come across offering lengthy discourses on the types of wine and detailed information about the vineyard. Such is the case with the excellent bottle of 1999 Les Terrasses from Alvaro Palacious that accompanied my dinner. Forget the completely tortured and ridiculous comparison that is made between the vintner and the Punk revolution of the 1970's and just enjoy the wine, which was excellent.

I opted to sample the five course tasting menu which was priced at $90. The first course was a poached lobster with Fava bean ravioli, leeks and orange. The generous portion of lobster was complimented nicely by the ravioli and the creamy Fava beans. Unfortunately I found that while the claw was perfectly poached the tail was a bit less succulent than I prefer. I often find that like chicken, lobster benefits from having its disparate parts prepared separately. What is good for the goose's breast is not necessarily good for the gander's legs, so to speak.

If I had some criticism of the first course the kitchen redeemed itself with the follow up, a beautifully roasted arctic char served over corn and Chanterelles. The milky flesh of the char was both tender and succulent and at the same time had a texturally pleasing firmness. In terms of flavor the char really falls between salmon and trout, the two fish breed which char is most closely related. I would be remiss if I did not mention the wedge of supremely crispy skin that accompanied the dish, it added a wonderful element to the dish.


Next up was the dish I had been most looking forward to which was the grilled Wagyu flank steak served with scallions, shallots and a parsley puree. Once again (and I apologize to long time readers if I am sounding like a broken record) I must take issue with the nomenclature - Wagyu beef comes from Japan and it is a pure breed. Domestic "Wagyu", which is what is served at Hearth, is a cross breed between Japanese Wagyu cattle and domestic breeds such as Long Horn or more often Black Angus. My quibbles with the name aside the dish was very good. The steak was cooked as close to black and blue as one could reasonably expect from a non steakhouse kitchen and was very tender and flavorful. The scallions and shallots added a savory contrast to the charred flesh and the parley puree provinding a balanced dish in terms of both flavor and texture.

The basil pana cotta that followed was perfectly set and provided a fascinating amalgam of sweet and savory, evoking pizza by virtue of the basil, the creaminess from the milk and the acidity of the strawberries. It was an unexpected but pleasant flavor profile.

The desert course was a nectarine and raspberry cobbler served a la mode with vanilla ice cream. It was a generous dish both in terms of portion size and in flavor, the tangy filling was balanced by the velvety richness of the ice cream and complimented texturally by the flaky crust.

The service at Hearth was casual and familiar and the staff was well versed and knowledgable about the menu. The room, despite my expectations, was clean and uncluttered and the food, aside from the slightly over cooked lobster delivered. Recommended.

Hearth
403 E. 12th St.
(1st Ave.)
Manhattan, NY

Hearth on Urbanspoon

6 comments:

DelShnell said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Give it up, DocChuck.

Don't ruin the guy's blog with your brain-numbing nonsense.

chiff0nade said...

Thank you, Mr. Solares for taking care of this guy "DocChuck".

Since I and my sisters at the CassandraCrossing have been trolling this guy, we have helped you eliminate him from your blog.

Therefore, if you decide to join our coven at the CassandraCrossing, we will permit you to do so.

You are a really cool guy, Nick.

AG said...

Really enjoy the review. Great writing all around, I've added a link to my blog.

Keep Eating,
AG

DocChuck said...

The next time my wife visits NYC (her company holds meetings there five or six times a year), you can BET that she will be visiting the Hearth.

From what you have posted, she has informed me that the physicians whom she is attempting to recruit, will be thoroughly impressed.

Thank you for the fine review.

After all, Business is Buiness. And, in my wife's business . . . success is crucial.

Thank you.

DocChuck's wife said...

Well, once again, I'm sorry, the ravages of long-untreated gonorrhea (actually, he did "treat" his condition with vicks vapo-rub and some st joseph's aspirin he stole from an elementary school's dispensary, if such things infect you) has rendered my husband unable to distinguish between fantasy and reality. Sometimes this is good - he still thinks I am a size 3, rather than my actual 750 pounds - but it is usually disturbing. I recruit pet owners for my pet-hair removal clinic, and sell crafts made of real pet hair to homes for severe alzheimer patients. I also recruit Korean restaurant owners to cover my expenses in cases where the pet owners fail to pay, or to pickup.