Tuesday, June 1, 2010

English lessons

Last week your resident schlub went to the opening for the Plaza's new food court -- and the lucky chef who got the concession is none other than everybody's favorite runaway groom, Todd English.

As somebody who's not the biggest Todd English fan in the world (a lot of his New York stuff just seems a little too pricey for me) I wasn't exactly prepared to be blown over -- which just goes to prove an old maxim that my father taught me:

The key to life is low expectations.

'Cause I have to say: The food court is pretty delish!

This has to be taken somewhat with a grain of salt: For one thing, it was an opening, and an opening will only tell you what a place is like when they're on their best behavior.

The other thing you should keep in mind is that you only get a sense of what the food tastes like when you know you don't have to look at the bill at the end of the evening.

But on both of these fronts, the Plaza Food Hall succeeds marvelously.

There was a hamburger station where they were grilling up sliders which were delicious. (The guy behind the grill also threw in a prime rib steak slider -- which I thought was terrific, but my dining partner thought was a little overdone.)

The pizzas were out of a wood-fired over and I thought they turned out really well (there was -- I think -- a quatro fromaggio pie that I tried which was out of this world. But this shouldn't be a big surprise -- across the hall is a cheesemonger.)

The raw bar had huge, hulking mollusks and crustaceans (including what may have been the single largest shrimp I've ever consumed) -- and there were sushi stations (I didn't try) and Japanese noodle stations (so-so.)

But my favorite thing had to be the desserts -- they had mini-cupcakes whose frosting was dipped in a white chocolate (for the red velvet cupcake) or milk chocolate shell which were perfectly outrageous. Also on the block were chocolate dipped pretzels, tarts and more goodies than even an intrepid reporter like myself could sample.

And the space is great -- it is more than 5,000 square feet and was designed to look like a Parisian or London shopping mall (say, a Harrod's) and I think it succeeds greatly. (My only quibble is that finding the mall is a little hard to find.)

As good as that other shopping mall across town? (a k a The Time Warner Center.) Well, probably not ... but also probably cheaper.