Sunday, July 28, 2013

Ruxbin

Okay, I will admit it.  I'm a bit late to the game.  I am so late in fact, that the proprietors of the restaurant that I just went to have recently opened a new restaurant.  While there is a lot of buzz about the new restaurant, I wanted to go to the original first which is still getting a lot of buzz and still requires a long wait on some nights.  Recognized by both Esquire and Bon Appetit Magazines as one of the Best New Restaurants for 2011, Ruxbin has obviously gotten a lot of press, as might be expected, for a restaurant run by a chef that has formerly worked at Per Se.  The place is pretty small, seating 32 people.  The restaurant describes it's design as Steam Punk.  With many recycled and repurposed materials spread around the room, I have to agree.  There is a lot of copper around with many gears and a lot of wood and the general color scheme is sepia.  The room has a high ceiling with what look like old newspapers overlapped like a newspaper collage.  The room has three booths with overhead lighting that looks like an old school chair combined with a TV tube.  The rest of the seating has tables in front of a bench with seats on the opposite side.  The bench has a wooden seat and a back made of vertically laid leather straps.  The lighting is overhead, consisting of a light bulb that is silvered on the bottom that lets very little light through.  There is a curved copper reflector mounted above the light in order to light the table.  Despite the fact that the bench was wood, it was a lot more comfortable than it sounded and it was where I was seated.  I was served a bowl of popcorn shortly after I was seated.  I am not a huge popcorn fan but I did try this.  It had a lot of Butter with Salt, Sugar, Black Sesame, and Seaweed.  It had a good flavor with all of the flavors shining through.  The seaweed flavor came at the end and added a briny vegetal flavor to everything.  While it did taste good and different, it had the typical popcorn texture which I am not exceptionally excited about.  I did eat most of it though.

While I was waiting for my order, the kitchen brought out a little something extra.   They brought me a glass of Gazpacho which was topped with Rye Toast, Red and Yellow Tomatoes, and Fennel.  The toast and vegetables were very crispy and fresh tasting and the gazpacho was fresh and bright with a citrusy flavor.  I didn't order this but I didn't mind because it was on the house and it tasted really good.

For my appetizer, I ordered octopus.  I like octopus but this was the best octopus that I have ever had.  The Octopus was marinated in Red Wine for three hours before being grilled.  It was then combined with Crispy Chickpeas, Pickled Green Onions, Black Soybean, Grapes, and a Ginger-Scallion Vin.  The octopus was very tender and had a light wine flavor.  The wine flavor in the octopus went well with the ginger-scallion vin and the grapes, and the onions and soybeans had a complementary flavor.  It wasn't an exceptionally pretty dish but it did taste really good.

For my entree, I decided to stay with the seafood and went with what was essentially a seafood stew.  Called a Bourride, it had Cod, Clams, Shrimp, White Beans, Fennel, Sun Dried Tomatoes, Herbs, topped with a Lemon Aioli, and Sake.  The seafood was tender and the clams actually came out of the shell pretty easily and the lemon aioli added some brightness.  It was very good with a lot of flavors and textures and I really liked it.

I was excited for my dessert.  It was a panna cotta with a lot of fruit and I like panna cotta.  What I wasn't expecting was the Banana Milk Shake that they brought with it.  As expected with a banana milkshake, it tasted a lot of bananas but it also had some cinnamon.  It was a great bonus for dessert.  As far as the Panna Cotta is concerned, it was called a Corn Pop Panna Cotta but I am not sure why.  The panna cotta was smooth and creamy and was combined with Strawberries, Rhubarb, Pistachios, Short Bread Cookies, and Black Sesame.  The sweet, tart, and crunchy flavors complemented the creamy panna cotta and it was a great ending to a great meal.

There is a great reason that there is still a lot of buzz about Ruxbin.  It is a great restaurant with a very distinct look, friendly staff, and great food.  I would be happy to return here and to introduce my friends to this place.           

       

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