I wasn’t planning on going to a press dinner at Wild Salmon, Jeffrey Chodorow’s fourth attempt to do something with the northwest corner of Third Avenue and 40th Street (the space was, in succession, Tuscan Steak, Tuscan and English is Italian). I was planning on just going to a scotch party and calling it a night.
But my friend and former colleague Erica Duecy, who’s now at Fodor’s, e-mailed and suggested we have dinner there and catch up.
So I left the party celebrating the introduction to the U.S. market of 17- and 21-year Old Pulteney single malts and went to Wild Salmon as Erica’s plus-one.
Being a Chodorow restaurant, Wild Salmon must have a theme, and it’s the unlikely one of Pacific Northwest cuisine.
Not that there’s anything wrong with the food of the Pacific Northwest. In fact, I wrote a feature about it back in 2000, when everyone was roasting fish on cedar planks. It just seems like an unlikely way to get New Yorkers’ attention in 2007. But Chodorow’s no dummy; we’ll see what happens.
I arrived and one of the publicists immediately called me on not remembering her from a restaurant opening several months ago, which of course I didn’t. One of the drawbacks of having a byline is that people generally remember who you are and are sometimes disappointed when you don’t remember them. I’m not sure why the publicist thought it was a good idea to call me on it.
I joined Erica upstairs. She was sampling a Northwestern sparkling wine and I sampled an Oregon beer that I was told — twice — was only available in Oregon and at Wild Salmon.
I took one sip and was immediately told by someone on staff to go to our table. We took a circuitous route, pausing to talk to freelance writer Jennifer Leuzzi and Laurie Woolever from Wine Spectator, who were dining together. They also were being visited by Grub Street editor Josh Ozersky.
Josh also is known as Mr. Cutlets owing to a book he wrote on meat.
“Mutton Man!” he greeted me, as he always does. I have forgotten why he calls me Mutton Man. I think it has something to do with a conversation we had at Citarella long ago.
David Blend from Thrillist was on the other side of the room and I didn’t get a chance to say ‘hi.’
Chodorow himself was there in a corner booth, gesticulating and looking enthusiastic. Later in the night, after the party at that table left, he sat at a table that included Braden Keil of the New York Post.
Erica’s settling in well to her job at Fodor’s, enjoying assigning stories to freelancers and earning her managerial chops.
Erica’s from Seattle, so Wild Salmon was an appropriate place for our reunion.
Here’s what we ate:
Olympia oyster with wasabi tobiko
Dungeness crab cocktail
house-smoked Alaska scallops with horseradish and crème fraîche
flat bread with sea salt, thyme, oregano and parsley
scallop, bay shrimp and Dungeness crab ravioli with lemon zest and a Chardonnay-tarragon broth
salmon trio (cold-smoked king, coho and sockeye) with warm potato cake, crème fraîche and paddlefish roe
assorted cured meats from Armandino's
Washington wagyu beef short ribs with pear onions
oyster, morel, chanterelle and cremini mushroom ragôut
roasted Walla Walla onion stuffed with pepper bacon
black cod with sake-kasu over Japanese sweet rice
cedar-plank roasted Columbia River King salmon with Yakima peach and raisin chutney and Yakima asparagus.
apple cake with cheddar ice cream
"Chocolate Extravaganza": cinnamon ice cream, hot chocolate and chocolate-glazed hazelnut mousse.