Friday, November 21, 2008

Apiary is the bees' knees. Har har har.

On Friday, the Triumvirate (JT, the bro, and I) reconvened after a relatively long absence at Apiary in the East Village. Apiary has been open for a few months and has gotten largely favorable reviews, and it looked both nice and reasonably priced. So there we went.

I arrived first and stepped into the mercifully warm restaurant from the frigid, frigid street. I'll make special note here of Apiary's atmosphere: it's really nice. Yes, nice. Really nice. Very comfortable, clean and modern without being trendy and oppressive. And there are really cool light fixtures-- on the walls are light bulbs in front of lucite chandelier cutouts, which combined cast fun chandelier shadows on the wall. Anyway, it's a really comfortable restaurant that puts you rather quickly at ease, especially after a loooooong week.

JT and the bro arrived shortly after, and we quickly pondered the short menu. After we placed our order, a bread man came by with the choice of two edibles: "regular" bread (and I quote), or an olive twist. Clearly the olive twist was the cooler of the two, so I chose that. And it was fantastic-- light, chewy bread with a crackly crust, twisted with chopped kalamata olives inside in the manner of a cinnamon roll, or a rugelach. Dipped in the green and tasty olive oil, it was delicious, especially because I was RAVENOUS. Truly. I packed away two of these twists in quick succession and was still quite hungry.

"Regular" bread

Looks like chocolate. But it wasn't. I promise.

After we'd gone through the bread, our entrees made their way to the table. JT had chosen the grilled pork loin with sweet potato puree, haricots vert with hazelnut, and "cider reduction." I tried a forkful of the sweet potato puree, and I will say this: that substance defines the term "silky." It was the silkiest thing I've ever eaten. And I'll venture a guess that it wasn't dairy-free... As for the pork itself, JT attested it was probably as well-cooked as any piece of pork could be and, thus, was the perfect fall meal. So that's good.

Pork, and silk

The bro chose the New York strip steak (medium rare), which came with "Smoked Oregon Blue" cheese crumbles, green peppercorn sauce, and a garlic and thyme gratin on the side. The steak was perfectly cooked (and I mean perfectly-- kudos to the chef). I took a couple of tastes of the accompanying gratin, and it was heavenly-- really rich, creamy, cheesy, potatoey-- just delicious.

Dark and handsome

A square of delight

So after those rich, extravagant dishes landed, mine arrived. I had chosen the roasted beet appetizer, which came with toasted pistachio, goat cheese crema, and micro beet greens. It was beautiful. And it was small. Small, small, small. In fact, there were five paper-thin slices of beet, drizzled with crema and garnished with pistachios and decorative greens. Don't get me wrong-- the five bites were delicious. But as I declared as I finished the last of it, I believe I was hungrier than I had been when I started. Word to the wise: if you go to Apiary (which I recommend, by the way), an appetizer alone will not satiate you. Just believe me here.

So pretty. And so tiny.

So I guess that left us with dessert. What I really wanted was an entree-- or perhaps about five more orders of the beet dish-- but at this point in the meal we were pretty much left with dessert or the highway, as it were. So we chose dessert. The bro passed, but JT and I each chose the toasted almond pound cake, which came with roasted pear and creme fraiche. It was also very pretty (a common theme here, I think), and it was delish-- a circle of light almond-flecked pound cake, much much lighter in texture than a traditional pound cake (fluffy and crumbly rather than dense and buttery), lightly toasted on the top and garnished with diced roasted pears, toasted almonds, a dollop of creme fraiche, and, of course, some honey syrup. It was yummy. It didn't quite take the place of a proper entree, but it filled me up.

This was pretty much my meal

So, as I mentioned before, I'd recommend Apiary quite highly. In all, it was an incomparably pleasant experience. The service was polished and friendly yet still unobtrusive. The food was really fresh and delicious, and even though my beets were comically undersized (yes, that sounds like a euphemism of some sort), everything else seemed like a relatively good value for the price... and it's worth noting that even though the menu listed the desserts as $8 apiece, our pound cakes only came to $7 each. As a final touch, as we walked out, the hostess handed me a gift certificate for $20 on our return to Apiary (valid on a Sunday or Monday. Fair enough.). I hope to be back-- and I hope you make your way there as well. It's a four-Offset Spatula experience for slightly less than you'd anticipate.

60 3rd Avenue, at 11th Street

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