Review: The Cookery

In a previous post, I raved over how much I loved Dough Nation.  After visiting the Hastings Farmers Market, I was compelled to write a post (see here).

Executive chef/owner David DiBari is a genius.  You can immediately tell that he has worked in some of NYC’s best restaurants just by looking at the menu for The Cookery.  With one failed attempt at having dinner there (we went 2 hours befire they were open for dinner on a very hot summer day and retreated back to our air conditioner at home), we had to give it another try.  We were laying around on a lazy Saturday afternoon trying to decide what to do for dinner.  Thinking about maybe heading into the city for some good eats then I blurted out,  “The Cookery”.  The discussion ended there, we jumped up and got ready.  No literally thats exactly what happened.

Upon arriving, the friendly hostess informed us that there would be a 30-45 min wait, so the logical next step is to order a drink at the bar.  Which turned out to be a fantastic decision because they have a  great wine list and some tasty cocktails on their menu.  We didn’t even have time to finish our first drinks, we were sat within 20 mins of arriving, at a high two top table near the bar.

Our waiter was fantastic, after lots of conversation we found out he was actually the event planner for the restaurant just filling in for the night, and who is originally from South Africa.  Being a former server, it’s always comforting to be served by someone that is knowledgeable, not only about the food but about the Chef as well.  His knowledge drove most of our menu decisions.  Every restaurant needs one of him.

All dinner items are perfectly timed and spaced out in a way that allows you to enjoy an evening.  unlike most other restuarants, they dont rush or overwhlem you.  our waiter told us exactly the order the food would come out.  and each course had a few mins in between to allow for breathing time.  Another thing we absolutely loved was that they offered half portions of the pasta dishes.  This allowed us to indulge and order more than two (or eight, but who’s counting) things to taste.

Deciding on what to eat was obviously a project, we wanted everything.   On their large chalk board of rotating specials, was a tasso ham salad.  Little slithers of ham, amiss a super fresh herb salad highlighted by parsley and basil, topped with a cool and creamy heirloom tomato sorbet.  This was one of the most original combinations I have ever seen, it tasted like a pig ran through a garden, in a good way.

Tasso Ham

Tasso ham with an herb salad topped with an heirloom tomato sorbet

When asking the server for menu recommendations, we were hoping we were hoping he would suggest an item we had already been eying such as the Crostini or fresh mozzerella, however he threw a curve ball at us and suggested the potatoes.  To which we replied, “the potatoes?” He confidently reaffirmed his decision and said “only if you want crack on a plate.” So that’s how we ended up with this……

Crack on a plate

Buttery salty potatoes with parmigiano and slovenian fleur de sel

….they were amazingly crispy potatoes, similar to papas bravas but covered in a creamy sweet cheesy glaze of parmigiano.  The server was absolutely accurate when describing our crack on a plate.

Next, our third and final appetizer (because the first two weren’t enough) the Pork belly agro braised kale and polenta.  Melt in your mouth pork sitting in an meaty gravy-like sauce on top of rich and creamy polenta.  All this flavor was then absorbed by the delicious braised kale. The sauce and polenta were so tasty that we used whatever bread we had left to scrape it up and then when the bread was gone we resorted to fingers. I had to remind myself I was in a public establishment but succeeded in cleaning the plate with some help from a dare by our server.

Pork Belly

Pork belly agro over creamy polenta and braised tuscan hill kale

After all the appetizers that could of been a regular persons whole meal, we were given some time to reflect, enjoy our drinks and digest before powering on through the meal.  The majority of restaurants over look the importance of spacing out dishes during a meal, especially for people who are looking to share and experience multiple courses.  First up for the pastas was the gemelli with crushed duck liver sauce, caramelized onions and truffle oil, as this hit the table, the truffle smacked us in the face. Being a huge advocate for the perfect bite, the crunch of the toasted bread crumbs added the extra texture the dish was calling for.  (Please note the next two pictures were taken half way through, the food arrived and we were too concerned with getting it in our mouths that I forgot to capture it before we dug in)

Gemelli truffle oil

Gemelli with crushed duck liver sauce, caramelized onions and truffle oil

Served along side the gemellis, we received the radiatore, lamb bolognese with fresh mint.  The proportion of lamb to pasta was perfection and the flavor of the lamb complimented by the mint added a depth to the dish that took it beyond your average meat sauce and pasta. The structure of the radiatore was the proper vessel to deliver the flavors of this dish.  As we made our ways through these pastas, keeping in mind we were three apps deep with osso bucco on the way, we opted to save half of each to take home.  This ended up being a great idea because what lied ahead, was something not be left behind.

Lamb Bolognese

Radiatore, lamb bolognese, fresh mint

Finally, our entree, the crisp heritage pork osso bucco, creamy white polenta and apple mustard arrived at the table.  In a weird way it reminded us of a holiday meal in its structure, similar to a christmas ham, pineapple and mashed potatoes, but not at all.  The outside layer of the pork has the crispiness of pernil with a tender, juicy, fall off the bone middle. The apple mustard added a contrast of sweetness for the savory pork and polenta, which was beyond smooth and creamy.

Osso Bucco over creamy polenta

Crisp heritage pork osso bucco, creamy white polenta and apple mustard

Not only would I recommend The Cookery as a great place to eat in Westchester, I’m adding this dinner to the TOP 5 Meals I’ve ever had which includes the likes of Momofuku Ssam Bar and Locanda Verde.  Thank you David DiBari and the team at The Cookery for such a fantastic experience!!!

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