Tuesday, August 11, 2015

FOOD BIZ | Florian, Park Ave. So., 18-19 Sts.

Chocolate Mousse with Hazelnuts. Alice would not share
more than a tiny bite with me.
My wife Alice and I have been celebrating her birthday over two days, beginning and ending with a birthday dinner.

Tonight we went to Florian at 225 Park Avenue South, in lower Manhattan between 18th and 19th Streets.

It was pretty busy at 9 pm when we arrived and busier when we left at 10:45 pm.

Florian could be named after:
  • Marcus Annius Florianus, Roman emperor for a few months before he died in 276 AD
  • St. Florian, patron saint of firefighters, who died about 25 years later than the emperor.
Florian describes itself as a Cafe-Trattoria-Bar and the cuisine is Italian through and through. The  chef overseeing the kitchen - Francis Peabody, our son-in-law - likes to experiment with different dishes. The menu offers many options in each of the traditional Italian categories.

Olive oil and bread baked in-house.
We started with olive oil and bread and wine.

The bread at any restaurant is the first sign of what to expect, and the bread at Florian is a delight to the eyes and mouth. The restaurant makes its own bread.

We were happy with the Rosso di Montalcino, a Tuscany red from an area south of Florence.

Ribollita soup.
I went for the Ribollita soup, a bean soup with chopped veggies and a little cheese shavings on top. I had a few bites before I remembered to take the photo, so the soup circle is invaded.

We had some unusual mushrooms as well - highly recommended.

Special chanterelle (?) mushrooms, perfectly prepared.
Alice then ordered the artichoke calzone - a pizza crust folded over with cheeses and artichoke hearts inside and outside, with burrata, the creamy mozzarella,  on top.

There was so much food in the calzone we brought most of it home. All that for $21 (+ tax/tip).

I had salmon with the ancient faro grains, nicely presented with the salmon sitting on top. I was so eager to dig in I forgot to snap a picture. The salmon cost $25 (+tax/tip).

Freshly made sorbet with lemon slices.
The best was at the end.

Alice got the chocolate mousse with hazelnuts (shown at top) and all she would give away is a small bite, enough to know that this was the best dessert.

I had the sorbet and you could tell it had not been sitting around a long time in a freezer. It is made fresh periodically in the Florian kitchen. You can tell from the fresh, light taste. I even ate the three lemon slices.

Almond cake with strawberry.
In addition there was a slice of almond cake with a strawberry. So we were not deprived.

Chef Francis visited with us until he had to go back to the kitchen.

He explained how the sorbet is mixed frequently so that there is always a supply on hand to meet demand. He talked about how  the kitchen is configured.

The chef in charge is Francis Peabody, seen here with his mother-in-law,
Alice Tepper Marlin. 
It is at a good location, where it gets hungry traffic all through the day.

Offices and retail are located up and down Park Avenue South, and there are nightspots nearby as well.

It means competition - and therefore a need for quality consistency throughout the day, despite the long hours for the staff.

The Italian food gives good value for money. The restaurant encourages its clients to feel as if they are at home. Our server, Gilda, treated us like family. (Which, come to think of it, we are.)

On the door on the way in is a sign: "Welcome Home."

The restaurant's strategy seems to be one of catering to a loyal crowd interested in reliably good food at reasonable prices. Google raters give the restaurant a solid four stars out of five. It has a Happy Hour on weekdays from 5 to 7 pm. A winner.

Other Food Biz posts on CityEconomist:

Food Biz: NYC's 10 "Hottest" Restaurants | CityEconomist ...


Food Biz: The Irony of Tasting Menus (Comment ...


Food Biz - Killer Tomato (Comment) | CityEconomist Update


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