Monday, February 15, 2010

Restaurant Weak

“Restaurant Week” is a phrase that strikes fear in my heart, like “polyester” or “flag football.” Unfortunately, in our current economic climate, I find that New York’s Restaurant Week, still provides a good excuse to get to some of the city’s better places. This go around, I was able to snag a reservation at BONDST, a product of New York’s chic sushi crazy of the past decade. BONDST sits neatly in a category with the likes of Tao, Megu, and SushiSamba. Situated in a plain-looking office building on Bond Street (of course), the crowded front bar had all the makings of sceney hot stop. The tightly packed alcove was filled with mile-high stilettos, overstuffed handbags, and the under stuffed ladies attached to them. We waited along the side after the ambiguously psuedo-Asian host told us it would be about 10 minutes.

After we served our allocated 10 minutes, we were told to go around the corner to an elevator for our table on the second floor. I had braced myself for some trendy, overly complicated ascension; however, we were greeted with a normal almost rickety office elevator. The second floor’s modern d├ęcor was lovely, but not compelling and the “scene” was definitely contained to the first floor.

Our party of three was ushered to a table for eight in the corner. Being the divas that we are, the only problem this created was who got to sit in the center. As we gazed out over our fellow diners, we alternated between our dinner choices and the rooms fashion choices. Because this was Restaurant Week we had a limited set to choose from (on both fronts).

To start, we had the traditional choices of miso soup or a green salad with ginger dressing. I had the salad, which came topped with an interesting pile of crunchy tendrils, which some restaurants would surely wrap around skewered shrimp. The crunchy nest was a nice touch, but the ginger dressing was a bit flat.

Our main course was a bento box of sorts, with an array of tiny bites on an oversized plate. One corner was adorned with spicy crispy shrimp in a yuzu calamanci vinaigrette and chipotle aioli. The shrimp were expertly fried with a crunch, tang, and kick that almost surpassed the guilt of eating something that has seen the inside of a deep fryer. A tiny glass dish next to my shrimp held a black shredded stack of sake-braised hijiki. This seaweed pile was a bland oceanic mush that has been out performed by seaweed salads from my college’s student center.

Continuing around the plate’s circumference, the steamed yuba chicken dumpling was minute but pleasant. It tasted fresh and clean but lacked any creativity. Next up were a fairly standard spread of spicy tuna and salmon avocado rolls. And, the plate was anchored with a few small slices of New York strip steak in a caramelized shallot teriyaki with a 12 year old balsamic. While the temperature was room, the taste was excellent. The teriyaki was complex without overwhelming the meat.

For dessert, I chose a lychee panna cotta with strawberry rhubarb compote. The panna cotta was delicate on the border of bland. The compote, however, had enough flavor to save the dish.
While I was pleasantly surprised by a palatable Restaurant Week experience, I was somewhat let down by BONDST’s safe approach. For a kind of chic, sort of tasty, somewhat interesting meal, BONDST is not to be missed.

BONDST – 2 Sparkles
6 Bond Street
New York, NY 10012
(212) 777-2500