Yesterday as I made my way around the city, I had stuck this weeks issue of the New Yorker in my bag. It is the food issue. Over the course of the day, I read the first article which was all about the Michelin guide and a Michelin reviewer and how she goes about doing her job. The one thing that stood out is how they review the food and decide on the one star, 2 star or 3 star for each restaurant. Everything that they eat is analyzed from quality to the technical aspect to the combinations of the flavors, etc. Not as in "ooh this tastes so good".
Last night we went to Convivio which is located on Tudor Square. Not an area I frequent but a change of pace. I want to be kind as the restaurant has really been praised but I didn't sleep great and my mouth woke up in a sea of garlic so I am attempting to figure out what to say here. I wonder if the reviews were so good because of the location? Or as I think about the Michelin guide reviewer, maybe it is more essential that I return a few times before making any judgement calls. Unfortunately, I won't return for many reasons and I guess that is why I am a blogger not a Michelin guide reviewer. BTW, Convivio was given one star from the Michelin Guide.
The restaurant recommends a four course prix fixe. IMHO, too much food. There are a variety of appetizers to choose from. I opted for something a little off the beaten track as I was inspired after reading the Michelin article. I began with 2 marinated sardines served over tiny pieces of mozzarella with a thinly sliced piece of marinated red pepper on top over a plate of light green olive oil. The combo just didn't work. The sardines were really fishy and the mozzarella which I had envisioned to be soft and sublime wasn't. Fred had the octopus which was well cooked and served over a chickpea mixture that was deep fried like polenta with red peppers on the side. Good but not as good as the Octopus I had at Periyali a few weeks ago. My friend sitting next to me had the Quail. The plate was absolutely beautiful. The carmelized figs looked like they could melt in your mouth. I tried one and it was tasteless. Looked good but no flavor. Alas. Honestly, this is when I started to get bummed about the meal at large.
The pastas are probably the best thing here. I went with the Saffron gnoche mixed with crab meat and sea urchin. It was good but not an omigod. The gnoche was small and not as pillowy as I had hoped. The sauce was tasty speckled with the crab meat but there was also way more than needed thinly sliced pieces of garlic hiding through out the dish. Why? Fred had the Fuscilli mixed with a pork shoulder ragu. Again, I expected his to had a beautiful chunky sauce over the top but it didn't. It was more like a rich red sauce, no meat. I also tasted the rabbit filled ravioli which was quite tasty but again, didn't send me over the top. Hey..maybe it just wasn't my night.
For dinner, two people had the steak. It was perfectly cooked and looked really tasty. That was served with smashed roasted potatoes and huge pieces of roasted garlic. Fred had the fish which I didn't get to taste. I went with the lamb chops. 2 lamb chops coated with herbs and tiny pieces of chopped garlic and pan fried. Good meat. The chops sat over a reduced mixture of escarole, tomatoes and white beans. It didn't work with the lamb chops. I had a few bites and left it as it was so overpowering and just not the interesting.
For dessert, we all had different things. I had a chocolate type of souffle. Think of the small cakes that ooze when you stick your spoon in with a serving of gelato over the top. Took a few bites. So rich and I was full at this point. They also gave us a spiced apple gallette. The crust was fantastic, crumbly with a hint of lemon.
All and all, loved the company, as we try and get together once a year and always have a great time. It is like sitting down with old friends. But Convivio, alas, although I had heard it was worth the trek to Tudor City….except for the company, it wasn't for me.