This weekend the Diamond family is all together in the city! Clearly we ended our evening with rooftop drinks at Birreria which included a surprisingly good live band and strong fans that circulated cool air throughout the large, open air space.
This weekend’s agenda is already jam packed as they are only here for 48 hours!
- Two delicious dinners in our neighborhood
- Broadway matinee of Nice Work If You Can Get It
- Metropolitan Art Museum to see a few new exhibits
- Possible trip out to Brooklyn and Red Hook
Last night we kicked off the weekend with dinner at a new restaurant in Chelsea from Richard Sandoval, Raymi. Located only a few blocks from us at 43 West 24th Street, the restaurant transports you as soon as you walk through the large doors to a more relaxed atmosphere through the use of unique design elements, lots of bright white and blue, an open ceviche bar, and high ceilings. (This picture and more are available via http://ny.eater.com/archives/2012/06/raymi_1.php)
When we arrived, Bo’s parents were enjoying a glass of wine in the bar area at the communal high boy table. The five of us enjoyed the first round of drinks there while catching up and cooling off from the hot day. It’s safe to say that Raymi can make a name for itself on the drinks alone! Their cocktail menu includes multiple pisco based drinks such as their pisco infusions and pisco based cocktails. The pisco infusions range from purple corn, green tea, to pineapple sage as well as over 20 other flavors. We went for the cocktails last night which were all amazing. My favorite was the blackberry-thyme machacado which featured Pisco 100, simple syrup, lime, and muddled blackberries and thyme. It’s important to note for future reference, that they have a happy hour from 5-7pm which includes these amazing cocktails for only $8 along with beer and wine for $4 and $6!
After enjoying our cocktails we moved into the dining area so we could enjoy dinner at a table versus a high boy. We were seated in the front dining area which was pleasantly full for a restaurant only 2 weeks old. The entire time we were in the dining area there wasn’t a single table empty for longer than it took them to clear and reset the table.
We were greeted with the large menus featuring an array of Peruvian specialties along with a few pan-Asian and New American dishes, ensuring that the menu featured something for every palate.
Unfortunately, this is where the restaurant’s young age started to show. While the waitress in the bar area was fabulous, answering all our questions with a smile and being attentive and even apologetic when a bottle of wine took to long to bring up from the cellar, our dinner waiter was clearly inexperienced and not accustomed to serving guests in a fine dining establishment. He looked like he wasn’t one day over 16 and he never properly greeted us, sharing the menus highlights, or even offering to take our order until we brought him back over 20 minutes later. We felt horribly but eventually spoke with the manager. We had such faith in the restaurant’s cuisine since we’ve loved Richard Sandoval’s other NYC restaurants (Zengo and Pampano), that we weren’t going to let one waiter ruin the experience.
The manager quickly apologized and not only replaced our waiter with the waitress who had previously served us in the bar area, but also promised a complimentary bottle of wine and dessert.
From this point on the evening was exactly what we wanted and expected from a restaurant of this caliber: flawlessly executed, creative dishes along with attentive, friendly service.
Bo and his mom chose four appetizers for our group to share while the rest of us were caught up in conversation. Their choices were perfect and just large enough for each of us to have a bite from each plate. Ordered below in order of my preference:
- TUNA NIKKEI white soy-yuzu / avocado / daikon / cucumber / nori
- PRAWN andean black bean glaze / aji verde / huancaina crema
- HANGER STEAK aji panca glaze / creamy ocopa sauce / rocoto salsa
- GRILLED OCTOPUS & CALAMARI aji panca / mortar potato / radish criolla
The flavors of each dish were spot on! The skewers were rubbed in a delicious smoky spice while the ceviche featured more of the Asian influences through the use of daikon and nori.
Meg and I decided to share an entree and appetizer for our main course which worked out perfectly. We both love scallops and therefore couldn’t resist the SCALLOP GRATIN, which are waitress raved about being her favorite dish. The scallops were pan seared heavily only on one side which meant that parmesan crust didn’t overpower the scallops.
We chose the hot rock ceviche as our entree, based on the ingredient list of shrimp, octopus, sweet potatoes, corn, and catch of the day. While this was a delicious Peruvian take on the traditional French bouillabaisse, it didn’t live up to my expectations.
That, or maybe it wasn’t truly large enough to share between two people. I was able to enjoy a true taste for the flavors but not the seafood. The true fish winner was the Salmon Nikkei which Bo’s mom ordered.
While we would have never ordered dessert at this point as we were all pleasantly satiated from both the flowing wine and delicious food, the complimentary dessert was a very nice and tasty gesture. These desserts were definitely not your standard sorbet or crumble. Each one was innovative, delivering complex, unique flavors through both the ice cream or sauce and the main part of the dessert. Ordered once again in order of preference:
ARBORIO “RICE PUDDING
LUCUMA “ICE CREAM SUNDAE
DULCE DE LECHE “PANNA COTTA” spiced cookie / burnt meringue
PERUVIAN CRISPY DONUTS
Overall, the food and experience was wonderful especially considering the restaurant is only two weeks old. Their happy hour specials alone will draw me back there with co-workers and girlfriends in no time but I also expect this to become one of the restaurants we frequent for special occasions and out-of-town guests! While the service left a bad taste in our mouth, the food was able to carry the service and we feel confident that they’ll address the service aspect over the coming weeks!
Question: In your opinion, can food make up for a bad service experience?