Sunday, August 09, 2009

Maloney & Porcelli

August 9

I hadn’t been to Maloney & Porcelli in years and years, since we had a going-away party for Bill Carlino when he abandoned Nation’s Restaurant News to become editor-in-chief of Accounting Today. That was a long time ago, before 9/11, back when the economy was good and managing editors got hired away by other magazines to be their editors-in-chief and the whole editorial staff went out to fancy dinners to give them a royal send-off. Can you imagine?

If I remember correctly, I had the restaurant’s signature crispy pork shank. I also had a version of that dish at Hawaiian Tropic Zone when it opened.

What does an old-school steakhouse and a sun-tan-lotion themed restaurant with scantily clad waitresses that wear numbers so you can vote for them during the floor show have in common? The menus were both developed by David Burke. Back when Bill Carlino quit, David was corporate chef of the Smith & Wollensky group, which included Maloney & Porcelli and assorted other steakhouses, and the Manhattan Ocean Club.

Smith & Wollensky founder Alan Stillman (who also founded TGI Friday's, by the way) spun off the single-unit restaurants from the steakhouse chain a few years back, but he’s still the boss of all of them.

And of course just because I hadn’t been to Maloney & Porcelli since King Arthur ruled in Camelot and it didn’t rain during the day, that didn’t mean the restaurant had been stuck in time, so when my friend Steve Remming suggested we have dinner there, I thought it was a good idea.

Steve’s a manager and sommelier at Maloney & Porcelli, and he sort of continued to manage and be sommelier during dinner. Waiters came by to consult with him about wines, and of course he kept surveying the place during the course of the meal, because you can’t turn that kind of thing off.

And business was good. The restaurant was mostly full and people looked like they were having a good time. And it was a Wednesday.

Had it been a weekend we could have taken advantage of the $75 three-course weekend wine dinner that the restaurant offers. That's three-courses of your choice from the regular menu, plus all-you-can-drink wine — not any wine, of course, but good stuff, nonetheless. Alan Stillman knows a lot about wine; he even had a vineyard on Long Island for awhile. And of course Steve’s no slouch either.

Since I was eating with Steve, we didn’t have to take advantage of any deal, because employees at Stillman’s restaurants get good benefits, including nice meal privileges.

Chef James Jermyn did a tasting menu for us, and this is what we ate:

Buffalo mozzarella wrapped in Lucky tomatoes with aged balsamic and micro cilantro
Maine Lobster ravioli with barbecue pan sauce and jícama
Caramelized sea scallop with sunchoke purée and summer-vegetable brunoise
Sauteed branzino with roasted tomatoes
Lamb chops with crispy figs
32-ounce Prime bone-in ribeye
Local corn cooked al dente and served in a sauce of cream and "corn milk."
And we drank half-bottles of Pouilly Fuissé and Crozes Hermitage.

And of course James also sent out a bunch of dessert:
Strawberry shortcake
Green apple sorbet
A Guinness Float (like a root beer float, but with Guinness)
Summer berry crumble
Jalapeño-Ice cream

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