Bridging Summer and Fall at Northern Spy

A few weeks ago I took a vacation from work. Rather than go anywhere, I stayed in town and decided to visit all of the restaurants I’ve been meaning to go to, but keep putting off. I went to eight restaurants in six days, and almost every meal was great. At the top of my list was Northern Spy Food Co., in the East Village. Northern Spy is a seasonal, market-driven restaurant, and the dishes I ate were a great bridge between summer and fall, food-wise.

At the top of the page you see one of the appetizer specials of the day, papardelle with cherry tomato sauce and capers. There was no visible sign of tomatoes, but as the dish arrived the unmistakable aroma of fresh tomatoes wafted up from the bowl. The tomatoes were blended into the sauce, which stuck to the freshly made pasta beautifully. And that pasta — slippery, slightly chewy… it was wonderful. Little chunks of zucchini added more texture to the dish. As you might imagine, this was a great expression of summer cooking.

Representing fall was my entree, polenta with wild mushrooms and baked eggs. Everything on this plate was perfectly cooked and nicely balanced. The creamy polenta matched with the chewy mushrooms, and the eggs added extra richness to the entire dish. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was the first of many egg dishes I ate that week.

The only dish I wasn’t crazy about was my dessert, a plum cake topped with a sage-plum sorbet. There was no plum flavor anywhere in the dish, and I would have appreciated it if the cake had been at least slightly warm instead of cold. Even the almond creme anglais, delicious as it was, couldn’t elevate the dessert to anything special.

Northern Spy was one of the most expensive meals I had that week, but it was worth it (except for the dessert, I could have skipped that). The homemade pasta was so good that I’m still thinking about it almost a month later. I’m looking forward to my next visit to Northern Spy; I can’t wait to see what they’ll be doing for winter.

Northern Spy Food Co. — 511 E 12th St, Manhattan

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