So I went to Heidi’s on Friday night, and I can’t wait to get back there again. I apologize to the half dozen really good restaurants that have opened before Heidi’s that keep sending me reminders that I still haven’t darkened their doorstep. I am innocent on this one, my wife took me out for a b-day dinner of sorts and, well, it was all her doing. Bottom line, it’s a great place. Here is the skinny, and remember its only two weeks old.
The location is great, super Lyn-Lake space, easy to find, easy to park and they valet. The entrance is charming; I can’t wait for summer and see what they do with the patio courtyard. The bar and exposed kitchen are well placed and the dining room is set off with a stunning tree sculpture that you all have heard of a zillion times, and yes, the graffiti wall works as well. Stewart’s mom’s glass window is beautiful . . . it’s a nice space.
As for the nits . . . it could be comfier. The chairs and tables, etc., are nice but the room layout is pretty straightforward. I am guessing that the Woodmans will tinker with this a tad in coming months. Service was spot-on technically, but I think the staff needs to all take a moment each night and shrug out the shoulders and be reminded to have fun. There is a formality to the experience, as a whole, that I think should be taken down a notch. The food speaks for itself and despite the MAJOR LEAGUE quality of the fare and the ambition of the kitchen I am thinking the service program can be 10 percent hipper and more fun.
But on to the food . . . one visit only, here goes . . . the eggless Benedict was a whimsical piece of laboratory food chic but lacked big oomph of flavor. All the corn elements were there, but it was way too delicate for me. Construction was amazing, the overall grade was B, and it was the lowest scoring dish of the night. The pickled tongue nibble was superb—beefy and unctuous, gorgeous little mustard sauce explosions; I wanted a giant wad of it on a pretzel bun for dinner. My only disappointment was not having room for the other five hors d’oeuvres offered as 2$ single bite courses. The green ranch salad is superb—peppery and nuanced—and we devoured it. The crème fraiche dressing was spot on. The beet plate is insanely good; Stew loves beets as much as I do and it shows. I only wish he had some of his beet sorbet on the plate as another element. Not that the plate needed it but just because I love it so much.
His little confit of carrot was inhaled and treasured. I could have a bowl of those all on their own. The mussel soup is extraordinary, and I could have it for dinner on every cold night of the year. Not too rich, not too creamy, but so beautifully mussel infused and the little whimsical parsnip crispies in the bowl kept their crunch to the bitter end of the tone felt through the room as my spoon dropped into the abyss. We shared the beef special, roasted tenderloin with chived pommes puree and béarnaise sauce with peppercress salad. It was perfect. Seriously. Even better was my duck breast, cooked so beautifully it literally melted on my fork. The scallion foam and grilled scallion worked so well with the lingonberry puree that I made a mental note to try it next time I am doing duck at home . . . foam is not my thing, and usually its not enough of a flavor vehicle to me, I object to it because it usually adds nothing to a dish but a visual punctuation mark. This was different. And very good.
Desserts were delightful. One was awesome, the other simply great. On one hand the pineapple napoleon was almost perfect, and would have been if the caramelized pineapple slices been warm. The basil ice cream may have been the best bite of the night in my opinion. The white chocolate mousse plate was superb element by element, but didn’t work well for me. I loved the yuzu sesame soufflé elements, but in the madness lost the sesame and yuzu flavor other than the sesame tuile around it. I thought it a tad confusing. We ate it all. It brought up a philosophical issue for me with some of the dishes: On several plates one or two of the ingredients got lost—ingredients that really belonged. It will be interesting to see over next few weeks how the kitchen edits itself. For example, on the tongue plate the “soy noodles” aspect of the dish is less impactful than I think the kitchen wants same with the candied kumquats or yuzu on the dessert we had. Remember this is based on one visit early on in the restaurant’s genesis. I can’t wait to see what the next visit brings. For me this is best part about dining in out in restaurants that take their food seriously. You get to see how the chef wants to morph, improve and edit his content.
Here is the problem that the Woodmans need to deal with. So much of their food is so ridiculously good that it makes the remaining dishes standout awkwardly, dishes that would be stellar elsewhere in town. That’s a pretty good place to be two weeks after opening. Nice work, kids!
I now have another restaurant to put on the regular rotation, that’s hard to do. If Steven Brown’s new place opens anytime soon and is half as good as I think it will be, 2011 will already have been twice as good a year for openings as 2010 was.
My buddy Adam sent me this. It’s the hotel from hell and it turns out if you go to the Trip Advisor home page you will see some pretty funny lists. I have stayed at hotels such as this before and just seeing this place makes me yearn for the cozy confines of Paris’ Georges Cinq or the Plaza Athenee.