May 9, 2014 § Leave a comment
I’ll be honest, I when HKB made reservations to Bar Bolonat, I wasn’t especially thrilled. I had read that this restaurant was supposed to be a “modern take on Israeli cuisine.” I had no idea what Israeli cuisine was, but what I did know was that the owner/chef, Einat Admony was also the creator of Taim, a popular falafel shop here in NYC (I had never been). If falafel was any indication of what Israeli cuisine is (I know, I’m so cultured), then this wouldn’t be the most enjoyable experience (falafel isn’t really my thing).
I could not have been more wrong. By the end of the night, Bar Bolonat had become one of the most memorable dinners I have had in the recent months. First off, I found the compact menu quite refreshing, especially compared to the extensive, tapas style, menus that seem so popular these days, a nightmare for an indecisive person like me. In terms of the food, each dish was extremely complex– lots of different contrasting flavors and textures; yet, everything was extremely well balanced. I found myself thinking about the elements of each dish, and how the whole dish was better than the sum of its parts. And the cherry on top- since HKB and I were seated near the kitchen, we had a great view of the inside workings, and saw Admony hard at work, expediting the dishes. It is always great to see the “celebrity chefs” working the line.
Everyday cauliflower – Lightly fried cauliflower with some sort of peanut/tahini sauce and some crunchy bits that tasted like the lovechild of rice krispies and shrimp chips. Surprisingly light tasting for something that is fried, I found it hard to stop eating. I also found myself dipping the cauliflower into the cous cous/sauce below. Yes, I could eat this everyday.
Zabzine tagine – extremely tender, braised beef cheeks over the softest, finest cous cous. The sauce with this was the bomb.
Minute steak – I first saw this as a featured dish on Eater but hadn’t read about about it in the reviews. Don’t know why though– the steak was cooked perfectly (medium rare), and had a nice sweet (pomagranate?) glaze. A very solid dish.
Poussin – The dish that is the face of the restaurant, and I can see why. A perfectly spiced, flavorful, whole hen sits on top of a bed of paella style rice (a perfect crispy-to-soft ratio) which has some potatoes and walnuts mixed in. Sweet! Salty! Mushy (in a good way)! Crunchy! HKB wanted more gravy. Maybe ask for extra on the side.
I would star my favorites, but all the dishes were my favorite. A restaurant worth a second visit…a second visit very soon.
Additional notes: Service a bit slow (especially after the apps, we waited 30min or so), but I expect things to get better as they work the kinks out of a new restaurant. Our waitress was very sweet and peppy. Small selection of wines, so we brought our own. Corkage fee: $30