I am incredibly lucky to have friends living all over the world. Not because I am ultra cool, but because I attended The Danish Summer School from the ages of 9-16 every summer for 3 weeks, where only kids of Danish heritage, living outside of Denmark, can attend. I made best friends with people living in every common & random country imaginable (we’re talking everywhere from Paris – Shanghai – Taiwan – Botswana – Ohio, and in between). I have no less than five of such friends living in New York.
Although 3 weeks might not seem like a very long time, seeing each other for such an intense period every single year has resulted in some of the strongest friendship’s that I have, still to date. With Danish blood pumping through our veins, despite most of us never having lived there (and some not even speaking the language), due to all of our parents having made similar lifestyle choices (otherwise we would never have met), the majority of us have had very similar upbringings and hold the same values, regardless of the society in which we have been raised. I get that that might sound a little strange, but I now know that this common denominator has a deep ingrained effect on one’s personality, which really comes to life when we are in each other’s company. In other words, we get one another, and I have a lot of love for each and every one of them.
Enough waffling. As I’m sure you can tell from the above spiel, it was therefore a top priority for me to try to see as many of my DSS friends as possible during my short time in New York. In the end, three of met for dinner at one of my favourite NY restaurants.
But, before I divulge more about that, let me take you on a walk through world-famous Times Square. I purposefully got off the subway one stop early so that I could join the tourist masses on a little detour to the restaurant.
It really is as big & bright & busy as you would imagine, with all of the huge screens constantly changing image.
Even the NYPD has to keep up to stand out.
Here’s a cheeky pic of me together with some officers when I visited last October:
With time against me, I took one final (favourite) snap of Times Square, and dashed to the restaurant as fast as my feet would carry me.
I met Tatiana and Seb at (just a little past…) 8pm, at The Mercer Kitchen.
It’s an uber cool restaurant with price tags to match, so we were all very chuffed to find them featured on the list of restaurants involved in NYC Restaurant Week, during which hundreds of top-rate restaurants offer amazing value menus.
Despite being a Tuesday, it was absolutely packed inside and we ended up having to wait half an hour for our table. Feeling particularly peckish, and with time ticking on, this wasn’t something that I took too kindly to, and may have voiced (numerous) times to the Manager. However, my irritation subsided somewhat when we were eventually shown to our table and 3 glasses of ice-cold bubbly were presented to us.
One of the main things that I love about The Mercer Kitchen is the HUGE open kitchen, which is very artfully done with a lot of apparent & continuous care going into its presentation – I highly doubt that most restaurant kitchens (and chef’s uniforms!) are quite so spotless. It’s very unique, and absolutely mesmerising to watch.
Moreish-ly soft, doughy, light bread and olive oil was served.
And then the main event began. The Mercer Kitchen was offering a 3-course menu with several (excellent) choices for each course, for $38pp. Considering some of the mains on the normal menu are $30 alone, the Restaurant Week set menu was truly great value for money.
For starters, Tatiana and Seb both chose the pizza with market peaches, coach farm goat cheese and prosciutto. It was a very generous size considering how heavy it was for a starter, not that anyone was complaining. The crust was utterly delicious and very similar to that of Pizza Pilgrim’s; soft & doughy. Peaches and prosciutto are a classic combination, although I’ve never seen it on pizza before, but it worked really well, with the goat’s cheese balancing the sweetness of the fruit nicely.
Against my best instincts, I decided to buck the trend for the purposes of the blog, opting for the market vegetable carpaccio, toasted sesame and creme fraiche. It’s safe to say that I had MAJOR food envy. All of the vegetables had similar flavour & texture profiles, producing a rather bland and incredibly crunchy plate of food, to the point that I actually gave up half-way through as a result of jaw-ache.
For mains, we each chose a different option, with Tatiana ordering the wild gulf shrimp, summer peas and carrots, crisp bacon and lime. Unfortunately for her, it was the obvious short straw of our three dishes. It was essentially just a (small) assembly of fairly boring ingredients, rather than a dish of any culinary accomplishment.
Seb got The Mercer burger, pepperjack cheese, avocado, crunchy onions and Russian dressing, with French fries, which I knew was going to be EPIC as it’s what my mum ordered when we visited The Mercer Kitchen during our girly get-away for my 21st birthday. My memories served me well.
Marvellously for me, Seb filled up pretty quickly, allowing me to devour at least half of it (plus nearly all of the cracking chips, nom nom nom). I don’t make such bold statements lightly, so believe me when I say that I don’t recall ever tasting a better burger. It was a posh take on a fast-food burger; sloppy, with unbelievably juicy meat patties sandwiched between a super soft bun, with the melted cheese, creamy avocado and crispy onions taking it to another level of food heaven. It was seriously divine.
In my bid to be healthy, I avoided the burger (classic) and went for the naturally raised chicken breast, creamed sweet corn and hot sauce, which was surprisingly delicious – I don’t usually order chicken when eating out on the basis that it’s ‘boring’, but it was very succulent, and rather tasty paired with the creamy sweetcorn sauce and hint of spice.
So, ultimately, I got to eat the two best mains, which more than made up for my starter error.
Good food in my belly + catching up with old friends = a very happy Andrea.
But I was about to get even happier, as it was dessert time. All three of us chose what I consider to be the only option on a dessert menu when it is featured; chocolate fondant, or warm Valrhona chocolate cake, orange lace tuile and vanilla ice-cream.
Trust me, it was as good as it looks. Dark & rich, with a river of hot molten chocolate that oozed from the first incision.
Feeling foodily satisfied, we paid our most respectable bill and headed off in search of an aperitif. Tatiana’s boyfriend and Michael joined too, culminating the evening in the best possible way, with us getting to meet such integral parts of each other’s lives.