In addition to having a food-obsessed brain, I am also something of a completist. So after eating at Park Avenue Spring I knew I had to eat at the restaurant year-round. Then we had an underwhelming meal at Park Avenue Summer, and I wavered. Was it worth going back just to have another mediocre meal at fine dining prices? I found myself drawn back for lunch, by myself, on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving (part of the draw was that the restaurant was about to switch over to Winter and I started to regret not visiting Autumn). I gorged myself on food that felt surprisingly summery, like the fig carpaccio above. Thinly sliced figs, chilled, covered in hoja santa goat cheese and smoked almonds (plus the ubiquitous micro-greens) came together in a rich, addictive dish that didn’t remind me of autumn at all but was unmistakably delicious.
I got an entree of the spinach and ricotta ravioli. The raviolis themselves were fine, but the sauce of cider and grapes helped launch this dish into the realm of something truly special, a great mix of savory and sweet. the combination of ricotta and apple reminded me of blintzes, in a good way.
I had been intrigued by the side dish called broccoli and cheetos, but to my chagrin they weren’t listed on the lunch menu. I had also heard good things about the miso-glazed brussels sprouts, and I love brussels sprouts anyway, so I ordered them (without the bacon, and thank you to my server for alerting me to the bacon). They were fine, the brussels sprouts only lightly cooked instead of caramelized, though the dish was a little too sweet. In addition to miso they were coated in a buttery sauce and some kind of fruit. I’ll just assume they’re better with the saltiness of the bacon to offset the sweetness. I don’t think I’d order them again, even though it looks like they will be offered on the Winter menu (I should point out that I ate every brussels sprout).
I couldn’t resist the siren song of dessert, and I’ve never gone wrong with an almond cake. This was a cranberry almond cake along with what was called a cranberry brulee. I am a little sick of the fussy dessert presentations at Park Avenue, but I can’t fault the taste of this one. The brulee was rich and nutty over a cranberry sauce, the cake crumbly and only slightly sweet, topped with toasted almond gelato.
So Park Avenue has won me over once again. As I said before, I was most surprised by the use of autumn ingredients to create light, fresh dishes — I had been expecting stews and roasted vegetables. I’m glad I satisfied my urges by visiting Park Avenue Autumn, but I learned that I enjoy fine dining much more when I have friends or family to share the experience with.
Park Avenue Autumn — 100 East 63rd Street