05 March 2008

Novecento Bistro, 343 W Broadway (between Grand St. and Broom St.)

After what has been culminating to a stressful 2+ weeks at work, I narrowed my selection of where to go to eat to about 10 (!) of my restaurant cards, most being Italian or French. Upon many vetoes from Dave, we went for an Argentinian (or so we thought)(dun dun DUN!!) establishment called Novecento.

Usually when I choose locations to dine, I'll pull up the menu on menupages - and if there is something unique on the menu that piques my interest, the restaurant will go into the "possibilities" pile.

In this case, it was the following dishes: fresh grouper over spicy black beans, mango salsa, pico de gallo & avocado AND sesame crusted pan seared tuna, shitake, bok choy, peppers, ginger soy glaze. (I haven't been feeling too hot in the past bit, so fish sounded appealing as a healthy, smaller dish alternative.)

As I rolled up to Novecento Bistro, 40 minutes late, it became apparant that maybe I had not chosen so wisely.

Décor & Ambiance: Confused, wanna-be European and dark with candle lights. (But wait, I thought it was supposed to be Argentinean?) White table clothes with paper overtop and cloth napkins. Loud trance-y / house music. Italian hangings on the wall. Name of restaurant employs French word, "bistro." This could definitely have potential in the summer with the great vibes spilling out onto West Broadway when they open the giant windows in front. All in all, not bad - but what are they going for? South America? Italian? French? Antarctican? NYC? It feels swank and upscale but...pick a theme and run with it. Congruency, people.

Service: Hostess was fine, and the waitress was friendly and pretty - however after she offered us some Pellegrino and we declined, the quality of service went down drastically. (We were the ones confused, because we ordered wine (thanks for introducing me to the delicious Malbec varieties, Dad!), appetizer, main courses!)

Das Essen: Confused again. (If you can't tell, this is the theme of the night.) First of all, I didn't even see those fish dishes that brought me to Novecento on the menu. Secondly, look at the menu. All of the dishes are thinly disguised mostly typical Italian food with Spanish names. Let's look at the appetizers, for example - quesadilla (Mexican), empanada (variety of Spanish speaking countries), mussels steamed in white wine and garlic (called Mejillones on the menu, which is a city in Peru, noting that this is normally a dish seen in Belgian and French restaurants), beef carpaccio (Venitian) and caprese salad (Italian)? Sounds like someone's going through an identity crisis. Pastas were paired with typical red and vodka sauces. Salads were typical, and the main entrees included steak, burgers, and a variety of toppings.

And the dessert menu? Don't even get me started. I found no uniqueness, no craziness, no creativeness on there. Unless you think créme brulée is unique, but hell we used to serve that at Nova (and that's saying something).

Regardless, Dave and I were hungry and sitting down, we frankly didn't care (and as I said before, I wanted Italian so I was okay with it). I got a glass of the Malbec red (quite tasty), and we ordered the beef carpaccio, spaghetti capri (fresh mozzarella, diced tomatoes, plum tomato sauce and fresh basil) and the ensalada nocecento (grilled skirt steak, french fries, baby mixed greens, avocado, dijon vinaigrette).

The carpaccio was very tasty, but how could you not like filet mignon, arugula, Parmesan cheese and avacado? My pasta was great too - how can anything with tomatoes, basil and mozzarella be bad? However what really took the cake was Dave's salad. It was steak with greens and avocado and dressing, on top of FRIES (or in this case frites? Papas fritas?). What?!

What was incredible is how the fries soaked up all the juices from everything in the salad. The only thing that might have made it better is cucumber. But either way, wow. Who would have ever thought of putting fries at the bottom of a salad? It's almost as ridiculous as the concept of a taco salad (taco in a bag anyone?), the Big and Cheesy, or carrot cake. Except it's actually good.

Anyways, Novecento gets 2 4/7 spoons out of 5. Spoons?


dad said...

interesting, but where is the weekend update with Cafe Loup and Mudville 9?
with a few words for the Dumpling Man and Volde Nuit??????????

love, dad

joes sister said...

taco in a bag?! taco in a bag!? mmmmmmm.....snort of laughter!!

Edward said...

spoons? spoons. yeah, i was confused, t had to clarify for me. now if you'll excuse me i need to go talk to sharon to see when the next taco in a bag day is...

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