|Roasted Sweet Potato Tortelloni with Beurre Noisette at Commerce Restaurant|
Fortunately, things got better once we were seated.
|Winter Vegetable Fricasee|
The winter vegetable fricassee was a knockout; carrots, potatoes, mushrooms and their friends over homemade spaetzle in a buttery tarragon velouté with grated black truffles. The whole thing was topped with a poached egg that, when broken, mixed into the sauce for added richness. We had to ask for more bread to go after the last of the sauce, which was worth sacrificing not only the neutral rolls but the more complex breads as well.
Other appetizers were also successful. Delicate hamachi sashimi was marinated in ponzu with thinly shaved carrot and radish, topped with microgreens and accompanied by a ponzu mustard aioli. Light and refreshing. Sweet potato tortelloni were warm and sweet like candy.
At $14, the cocktails were quite good. My choice was the "nor'easter", made from rum, fresh ginger, mint and lime. It was refreshing and not too sweet, with a deliberate kick from the ginger that almost helped me get over my outrage at spending $14 for a cocktail. Almost.
|Porterhouse with Potatoes, Cipollini and Shallot Steak Sauce|
The entree selection also featured tender veal meatballs with a hint of smoke over a bed of polenta. Fettuccini was cut thick and rustic with a simple but intensely flavored tomato sauce and a dollop of ricotta. Both were competent and enjoyable dishes.
|Veal Meatballs with Polenta|
The service was fine, but our waiter was not well versed in the food. My query on the contents of the vegetable fricassee sauce, for example, went unanswered (so when I said before that it had a "buttery tarragon velouté," I was making an educated guess - do you trust me?). OK, I'm more prone to ask questions than the average customer, but you never know who has a curiosity or a food allergy (or who is a food writer). The staff was a bit harried due to it being Christmas Eve, but I forgive them for that--except for the hour-long wait for a reserved table, which is unforgivable any day of the year.
50 Commerce Street, New York, NY 10014
Recommended Dishes: Seasonal vegetable fricassee ($17); hamachi sashimi ($18); sweet potato tortelloni ($16); veal meatballs ($26); porterhouse for two ($48pp); expensive cocktails ($14).
View Larger Map