10 Downing has transformed the corner of Downing and Sixth Avenue. For years there was a dilapidated travel agency in that space. As those businesses go out the window, it was only a matter of time before the agency closed. Every time I walked by the space, I'd wonder how is that travel agency paying their rent?
I really love what they have done with the space. I can't put my finger on it but there is something about the space, the vibe, the whole place that reminds me of somewhere else I have been. Oh well. The space is clean, black and white, with art work hanging through out. Really established artists of the past 10 years. I think I read somewhere that the pieces were lent by friends of galleries but maybe not. I particularly like how the windows wrap around the entire space yet the door is on Downing. A door build like an old barn door.
The service is great. Very attentive and happy to have you there. That alone goes to the top of the charts considering the days of old where you should be so happy that we gave you a seat. No longer works for me. The menu is interesting. Keep in mind that place has only been open about a week and a half.
Everybody tried something different. It was a family affair. Fred began with the black squid ink pasta with crab meat. Nice tasty, different with a bit of a kick. This particular dish has been written about and someone had to get it. Josh had the cassoulet with duck meat balls. This was served in a small cast iron pot. The bottom was linked with rich white beans and 3 duck meat balls over the top. Lots of flavor and a clever take on the classic cassoulet. Em and Jess had the white bean soup. Not what they expected. A dark tomato broth with salt cod. A tad salty and not that interesting. I went with the brussel sprouts. Roasted brussels sprouts covered with pan fried breadcrumbs, shavings of Parmesan cheese and a soft boiled egg. A really interesting mix of flavors.
For dinner, we all went out own separate ways too. Fred and Jessica both had fish. Jessica really liked her dish. She had the Montauk Fluke. What was called for on the menu isn't exactly what she got. There were chanterelles and fluke but no mention of a puree of sunchokes. She was curious and asked what it was. Strange that this wasn't mentioned. Fred went with the cod which was a little bit undercooked. He was not wowed. Josh went with the chicken that has been written as the supposed dish to have. Really good. Crispy chicken served over a bread salad. Emily should have ordered the chicken she enjoyed eating part of Josh's. Emily had the arctic char which she really did not like. They failed to mention on the menu that the fish would be sitting on liquid of a parsley puree. It was way too strong for the subtleties of the fish. I went with the lamb which was good. 2 large lamb chops and a small piece of lamb shoulder that had been braised with crispy skin on top. Then a few greens and square pieces of saturated chick pea bread. Not sure exactly how they were made but it worked with the lamb and the tiny pieces of feta cheese scattered around the plate. Rich and a tad fatty.
It was a Sunday night. The place was pretty busy. The kids still had lots of work to do. It wasn't a relaxing meal so perhaps that had something to do with it. The noise is a bit loud in the restaurant and Fred had a hard time hearing. Nobody wants to rush back but I am game to check out the restaurant again. I liked the menu and the vibe. I can't imagine they won't eventually open for lunch considering that the 2 places across the street from them do a huge lunch business and it is something they can certainly capitalize on. They seem to have it together. Even though the food was coming out quite quick, the kitchen will start to get in step as time goes on.
Not a total thumbs up for 10 Downing but a mixed review. I will go back again to see where they are in a few months.