Ca Va Brasserie: 310 W. 44th st. New York, NY

Standard

I had theater tickets for Friday night to go see Hair on Broadway with Gabriel, and decided to look around for a place nearby to have dinner. Since restaurant week was extended this summer, it was easy to find lots of options. As soon as I saw one of Todd English’s places within a block from the theater, the choice was made. I love all of his other restaurants and was excited to try this one.

When we got there we took in the large, open, modern setting, cool, dimly-lit, art-deco, light fixtures, a large fireplace and chic, upscale decor. We were seated right away at a small table on the side of restaurant and drink orders were taken. As we sipped our cocktails and looked over the menu, we saw that the restaurant week menu was not the same as the one posted on the website. We weren’t really thrilled about the options on it and decided instead to share 2 appetizers, 2 sides and a dessert. It was the perfect choice to make, still plenty of food, slightly less expensive and exactly what we wanted to eat.

First, a large loaf of crusty French bread and butter was brought out in a brown paper, bakery sleeve. Still warm from the oven, with a fluffy inside, it was wonderful and hard to not polish off in 10 seconds flat. When all 4 dishes came out very soon after, we were delighted with our varied choices and the fact that we’d ordered the perfect amount to make a dinner out of. My favorite dish was the grilled octopus. It was slightly caramelized and served over cannellini beans, patty pan squash and herbs. SO delicious. The texture of the octopus was a little chewy, as it should be, and the flavor really came through since it was so simply grilled. The fried oysters were prepared escargot style- and although they were drowning in a herb butter, they somehow had a lightness about them. They were served with a grilled piece of garlic bread that was so wonderful to mop the sauce up with. We decided to ask for more regular bread so that we could continue sopping it up until the plate was dry. The haricot vert with wax beans and roasted shallots was prepared simply, cooked al dente and served it’s purpose as the one vegetable on the table. Light, clean and crunchy, it was excellent alongside of the heavy other choices we’d made. The last side was the mac and cheese with truffles. This was the only one I was not impressed with, and by looking around at the tables around us, we could see it was one of the most popular items to order. The truffle flavor seemingly came from a powder, there were no slivered truffles to speak of, and the pasta itself tasted over-cooked and mushy to me. Although the cheese was gooey and stretchy, it didn’t add much flavor. Frankly, for a dish this indulgent, it simply wasn’t worth the fat and carbs to me.  It was much more impressive in it’s presentation- served in a small crock with a crusty, golden-browned top, than in it’s taste.

For dessert we ordered the milk chocolate gateau with caramel sauce and peanuts. Wow. This was amazing. Admittedly, I am a total sucker for chocolate desserts but this one was definitely a winner. With a glossy ganache, a chocolate cookie crust, a mousse-y interior, a topping of caramelized peanuts, a swirl of caramel around the outside and a scoop of the most perfect vanilla bean ice cream, this left nothing to want. I sipped my pink chamomile tea with honey and was pretty much transported to heaven.

Overall, this is another top-notch Todd English winner in my book. I would be happy to go back- especially given the hit-or-miss nature of dining options in the theater district. Bravo! Encore!

 *photos courtesy of Gabriel Sanders. http://www.magicsandbox.com
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