I don’t review places that expect they might get a review from me. I just feel they treat me differently so you may not have the experience I do. I also don’t review free food cause what kind of 21st century American conceit would it be to think anything less than positively about the gift of food, especially food made by talented chefs?
Group Momofuku and group Hearth both know me on a first name basis and are aware of the blog, thusly you haven’t heard a lot about all the great meals I have had at Insieme and Ssam Bar. This doesn’t seem to matter much anyway, other people that write love these guys so it would probably only be interesting if I were going against the grain, and I am not; I very much enjoy eating at the restaurants of both groups.
My love for David Chang’s food, which spans most of what I have tried, can be reduced to my love for apples and bacon. So far there have been three versions of an apple and bacon salad at Momofuku Ssam and all have been great, the current apple kimchee with crumbled bacon being the best. You just gotta love anyone who works to evolve something fundamentally perfect and simple to begin with without complicating it.
My love of Marco Canora’s food can also be reduced to a single dish, even though I have been pleased by most all that he has served me: gnocchi. His little potato dumplings, with butter, a good amount of sea salt, and pepper just make me very happy. Paired with one of Paul Grieco’s aromatic whites they are perfect.
It just doesn’t make sense for me to try to review the experience I had the other night when I went from a free “friends and family” tasting menu at Chang’s new Momofuku Ko to drinks and a snack at team Hearth’s new wine bar Terroir. I am too predisposed to liking them to fairly assess.
My only risk was of having expectations too high, and honestly I was very satisfied by both. Both teams are offering a different experience from their existing places without straying too far from the groove they rock in. Neither is McNally doing Italian.
Basically, in a nutshell, my first impressions were:
Momofuku Ko: if you like the other Momofukus but have wished for more refinement you will like Ko. The base flavors are the same yet more refined and developed, the room is similar yet less rambunctious. Most importantly, the chefs are still right there.
Terroir: if you have ever thought, “I would love some of Marco’s food, like his cotechino, but don’t want to sit down for a multi-course meal at Hearth or Insieme” now there is an easier option. Terroir is simply Paul’s wine and snackier versions of Marco’s food at elevated bars in a happy space. Here too, most importantly, the chefs are still right there.
So one has tightened up, but just a touch, and the other has relaxed, but just a touch. Who wouldn’t want these options from the guys that actually get it?