We had dinner plans with dear friends who were in town from abroad. I was tasked to find a restaurant but after hemming and hawing trying to find the "perfect" spot, I relinquished my role and asked our friends to pick. I think I made the right decision because it turns out our friends had a back up reservation at Prune, Gabrielle Hamilton's East Village hotspot. Prune has been on my restaurant list for years and I was excited to finally experience it (without waiting for hours).
The interior of the restaurant is very quaint and filled with small tables, which created a cozy (and loud) atmosphere. Each table has a tin dish filled with poppadoms--a nice change of pace from the usual bread and butter--that gets replenished often.
Don't expect to eat lightly at this restaurant. The menu is filled with hearty dishes like bone marrow, creamed dry corn, and pork sausage. We ordered the bone marrow, baked mussels with parsley shallot butter, and one of the specials, a dry-aged beef. The bone marrow was to die for. The plate was filled with three hunks of bone, slices of toast, parsley salad, cornichons, and a small dish of gray sea salt. The marrow could stand on its own, but smearing it on thick toast and topping it off with the slightly acidic salad, and a sprinkling of sea salt wasn't bad either.
The baked mussels were small but that didn't detract from their savoriness. Lastly, the dry-aged beef was a hefty portion and had the subtle hint of a sophisticated beef jerky.
For entrees we feasted on the spatchcocked pigeon and grilled lamb chop blade. Can you believe I ordered pigeon? The Columbidea species is one of my worst nightmares. However, I decided to take a risk, knowing I was in Chef Hamilton's hands. How often have you eaten pigeon? I was also comforted knowing that the pigeon was purveyed by D'Artagnan, the gourmet food producer extraordinaire. Both meat dishes were prepared quite well--a lovely sear and plenty of salt, butter, and parsley salads. More parsley! Four of our dishes included parsley. Even though Chef Hamilton's take on the herb was tasty, I would have liked to sample another garnish.
We finished our meal with a walnut chocolate tart and a butter cake, which came with a small glass of liquor. The butter cake was by far our favorite. Despite its name, the cake did not scream butter, rather a gentle flavor of lavender.
Did Prune live up to the hype? I loved the inventive menu and preparations, but could have used a little less salt and parsley salad. Next up? Read Hamilton's memoir Blood, Bones & Butter.