10 Downing

by Susan on November 26, 2008

[Food:3/5]

For the last few months I have been anxiously awaiting the much-delayed opening of 10 Downing. Like many others, I was eager for Jason Neroni’s food, but I was also excited for sentimental reasons.

My great aunt used to live in the 10 Downing apartment building and I remember countless Sunday visits to her studio apartment. Back then, parking spots on Sixth Avenue were readily available and Da Silvano was a low-key Italian restaurant across the street.

She’d be ninety now, and if she had dined with us at 10 Downing last week, conversation would have been sparse; raised voices and good hearing were requirements for any exchange of dialogue. It was louder than Babbo when the rock music blares; it was louder than the bar I was at on Friday night. The difference at 10 Downing is that the obscene decibel level wasn’t intentional; they have sound engineers addressing the issue.

The menu offers jazzed up comfort dishes as well as inventive spins on classic preparations, like Ocean Trout Tartar and Bison Hangar Steak. The prices are reasonable; or at least reasonable by New York standards. Spice, bright color, and strong flavors were present in every dish. They’re the verve that will set the dishes at 10 Downing apart from the Cods, Arctic Chars, Beets, and Brussels Sprouts that these days, are as prevalent in NYC as taxis.

To start, vibrant red pepper relish added zest to a crock of Baked Sheep Cheese.

Braised Beets were dressed-up with tangy grapefruit and pungent blue cheese. The outfit looked great, but the flavors proved overpowering for the delicate and demure vegetable. Nevertheless, I welcomed a rendition that didn’t include sweetly glazed nuts or goat cheese.

For the Duck Meatball Cassoulet, four plump and moist spheres of ground duck rest atop spiced flageolet beans. Harold Dieterle better watch out, there’s a new duck meatball in the West Village.

A fan of this website recently accused me of ordering a lot of Arctic Char. Guilty as charged; 10 Downing was no exception. In Neroni’s version, hunks of smokey bacon hang on the sweet and pink fish like anchors. I loved the idea, but I liked the Arctic Char at Park Avenue Autumn better.

A scoop of red pepper romesco accompanied the salsa verde drizzled Bison Hanger Steak. The meat was earthier than its more common brethren and the romesco, a piquant treat.

The Colorado Lamp Chops, with herbs and marinated feta, was the tamest dish at our table. There wasn’t a ton of spice or color, but it did come with a fatty, melt-in-your-mouth piece of lamb belly.

We were impressed that the Chocolate Souffle to-order would only require 10-15 minutes to bake. What type of ovens did they have back there? Apparently the same one I have at home – the dessert was more chocolate liquid than soufflé. We still licked the ramekin clean.

I have a feeling that even if they can’t fix the noise problem, 10 Downing is going to be a popular addition to the already restaurant-crowded West Village. As for my great aunt, she wouldn’t recognize the place.

10 Downing
http://www.10downingnyc.com
10 Downing Street
New York, NY 10014
212.255.0300

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