First new/old restaurant of the new month: San Domenico and The Fab Foodie Four decided to try it out together.
We were inspired by Alan Richman’s review in GQ where he made this call to forks: “At the moment, given that nothing in the restaurant world can be taken for granted, I have this to suggest: Eat at San Domenico while you can. It is one of the most gracious, refined, and, in my opinion, underappreciated restaurants in New York.”
Well alrighty then. We decided to go for it. One really expensive meal, once in a while, well, it just needs be done. Especially with a New York institution that’s closing “for renovations and relocation”.
"Grown-up" restos as in elegant, hushed rooms, where one dines slowly and with purpose; where the food is prepared with skill and delicacy; where a quick lunch means under 2.5 hours abound in NYC. They are not my usual thing. I tend to feel like an eight year old: fidgety whilst the adults talk over my head; fussy in a party frock that inevitably gets ruined in a mysterious act of clumsiness; and hungry because the meal is overly rich and nut-laden. (I’m still upset about my wine-red velvet smock-dress and white satin billowy top that I wore to my cousins bar mitzvah and that was ruined before the night was over. I loved that dress.)
However, suddenly I’m the grown-up. The talk isn’t over my head, I don’t ruin my outfits with spillages, usually, and the food is just right. Of course, that happens only after doing the allergic girl advocacy thing. Food, for we allergic and intolerant girls and guys doesn’t happen without some gracious communication, and an understanding and sympathetic kitchen. And as you know dear readers, I’m finding that more and more often here in my fair city.
So onto the lunch.
I had called ahead spoke with the San Domenico hostess who asked Chef (who swallowed the cat, to catch the bird, who ate the spider) who said, it shouldn’t be a problem.
I was the first one to arrive, giving me ample time to chat up the bell'uomo, and rico suave host (who was just in Montreal the day before watching the Formula One races, live. I want to go next year!) He was aware of the allergic diner at our luncheon, which would be this allergic girl, and without prompting went and got a menu to go over step by step with me what would be safest. Love that, thank you. I had been looking forward to trying their renowned baby goat but it wasn’t on this season’s menu and it was almost 100 degrees out. Too hot for anything too heavy. I settled on the beef carpaccio with foie and raspberry vinaigrette [he brought over a boule of mozzie as well] and I started with a green salad with a light balsamic vinaigrette.
Sigh-worthy side note: I was wearing a new party frock and being so so careful with my lusciously dressed salad: i.e. taking slow bites so as not to splatter. But some things never change my dearies and as soon as the plate was whisked away I noticed a small but definite oil spot on my new, sea green, silk dress. Right on the bustal region. Not happy.
The group, sans moi, started with the San Domenico famous egg raviolo which is a feat of gastronomic engineering; we all had a crack at trying to figure out how it's prepared. It was one large pasta pillow that, when punctured, oozes egg yolk and truffle butter. In the old days, that would have been my lunch with LOTS of bread to soak up everything.
My salad was yum. The carpaccio was my entree and my first time with the sliced raw meatness. It was soft and delicate -- but taste-wise it was bland. Dare I say, "Pass the salt?". I paired it with a bite of the mozzie which improved the experience. I enjoyed the dish, but I wasn't wowed.
Two of our three weighed in on their lunch.
Shari said, “As for lunch, the egg raviolo was rich and yummy, and my Chilean sea bass was light and cooked well, but not that flavorful. I liked the vegetable mix it was served over, it had a nice tomato based sauce. So, overall, it was good, but not great.”
Francine: said, “My scallops were divine! Fresh, plump, sweet and perfectly cooked so that they had a little spring but weren't rubbery and were nicely caramelized on the outside and the veal stock they were cooked in was a nice savory contrast to the sweetness. That uovo raviolo was delicious!”
Our resident wine guy had handcut pasta that I can only assume he enjoyed because it was all gone!
So overall, was it a swoon-worthy lunch? Consensus is split.
BUT, it was all allergen-free for me.
Dining at Sam Domenico was elegant, without stress and I felt my needs were heard and taken care of—which is all any of us allergic girls, guys, kids, parents, friends and family want.
So big points for allergen-free-ness. THANK YOU San Domenico for a lovely afternoon.
240 Central Park South
New York, NY