Taboon

For a few select weeks in the end of July, the unaffordable becomes reasonable.  NYC Restaurant Week has officially begun.  Some of the city’s best create a lunch and/or dinner Prix Fix menu, opening their doors to savvy foodies from far and wide.  I am a subscriber to Zagat’s daily emails and was thrilled when receiving their list of 12 Best for Restaurant Week.  I glanced over the decadent three course menus for a dinner with my sister.  I decided upon Taboon, a Hell’s Kitchen Mediterranean-Middle Eastern fusion restaurant.

We arrived late in the evening for our 9:45pm reservation since my work hardly allows for anything earlier.  The restaurant was absolutely adorable the white washed brick walls, candles as the main source of light and beautiful white drapes hanging from the windows.  The simple table decor allowed for the white, wooden tables to fit into the entire feel of the restaurant.

We sat down and gawked over the menu.  Even though I had been staring at it for days, I still couldn’t decide what to order.  Eventually we decided on our courses and waited for the bread and dips, the added bonus for this restaurant, that we had been eying at the tables around us.

Unfortunately, our first course arrived before the bread.  We tried to send it back in order to have the full dining experience.  However, the hostess came over saying, “sweetie, bread isn’t a course.”  I definitely understand that, but did not appreciate the attitude and the out of order delivery of our food.  I can’t remember the last time the food came out before the bread.

With one bite, we looked past the rude delivery.

(Rosemary Flat bread, Roasted Pepper & Feta, Tzatziki, and Hummus)

I ripped a piece of the steaming bread, allowing for the sweet aroma of rosemary and olive oil to fill my lungs.  Then I spread my soon-to-be favorite dip of red pepper and feta on top of the warm piece and it slightly melted.  The flavor burst with the fresh cheese and light red pepper flavor.  Absolutely delicious.  The homemade tzatziki had that perfect light cucumber flavor to it, with the delicious oils mixing in.  The hummus had a bit of an unexpected kick, causing Leigh to cough.  Everything else was literally licked clean, with the exception of the hummus, which was just so-so.

I had ordered the blackened shrimp for my first course.  Leigh decided on the Greek Yogurt Gazpacho.

(Blackened Shrimp, Garlic-Olive Oil Sauce, Parsley, Tomato, Bread)

(Gazpacho, Greek Yogurt, Crab Meat, Basil, Avocado Oil)

The shrimp itself was cooked to that perfect shade of pink, but the sauce elevated this dish to a whole different level.  I almost seemed to forget about the shrimp as being the purpose for this delicious garlic, olive oil sauce’s existence.  It walked the fine line between rich and light, being full of flavor.  Everything just burst at once, especially when using the delicious Rosemary bread to soak up all of its juices.  I wish I could bottle up and/or replicate this sauce, it was truly that fantastic.

The gazpacho found its unique Mediterranean spin by utilizing Greek yogurt.  It created this level of creaminess, reminding me more of a cream of tomato soup then a gazpacho.  I love tomato soup, so I definitely enjoyed this dish, but I would not put it in any realm of my beloved gazpacho.  The crab meat was scarce, but when I did get a bite, it was a nice fresh contrast to the creamy soup.  The unique addition of the basil added to the summery element of the dish.  Overall, it was good, but nothing special.

After having a few minutes to breathe and chat a bit.  Our main dishes arrived.  I had ordered the Lamb Kebab.  Leigh went for the Market Grilled Veggies with Chickpea Potato Gnocchi.

(Lamb Kebab, Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Relish, Pita Bread, Tahini, Mint)

(Chickpea Potato Gnocchi, Brussel Sprouts, Broccoli Rabe, Tomatoes, Chives, Pecorino Romano)

The fancy version of Mediterranean street food lived up to all exceptions.  The lamb had the perfect spice mix, showcasing the spicy, minty flavors that one would expect out of a kebab.  The relish of eggplant and tomato gave that essential freshness to the dish.  Then the homemade tahini sauce brought everything together adding to the flavor and moisture of the dish.  I barely even needed to use the pita since everything stood out well on its own.

The Vegetable and Gnocchi was on a whole different playing field and a reason to go back to Taboon.  You could taste the chickpea element of the crispy, yet creamy gnocchi.  The vegetables played the perfect counterpoint to the delicious and rich gnocchi.  The brussel sprouts (a Wolfson Family favorite) retained that crunchy element I love.  The broccoli rabe asked almost like a pasta, with that deliciously rich, crunchy flavor.  It had that bite of salt that brought everything together.

Our stomachs were stuffed fill of delicious food, but the best and most essential part of restaurant week is of course, the dessert.  I went for the molten lava cake and Leigh ordered the Silan.

(Molten Lava Cake, Hot Chocolate Sauce, Praline Cookie, Turkish Coffee Ice Cream)

(Vanilla Ice Cream, Puffed Rice, Date Honey, Caramelized Pistachios, Shredded Halva)

On presentation alone these dishes took the cake, literally.  With one spoonful, the taste and textures made my taste buds dance with joy.  Absolutely delicious.  The warm, rich molten lava cake combined with the cold, coffee ice cream was absolutely decadent without making you feel like you were eating pure sugar.  It tasted like perfect balance between sweet and savory.

Then, we switched.  Leigh’s dessert was the ultimate ice cream sundae.  I loved the combination of the sweet vanilla ice cream and the crunch of the puffed rice and surprising pistachio on the bottom.  The halva brought the whole dish together, giving it such a unique texture.  I’m not usually a big halva fan, but in this presentation, it just worked.

We both leaned back in our chairs, extremely full but absolutely satisfied.  This restaurant week did not fall short on any account.  We paid our bill and proceeded to walk back to the Upper West Side, stuffed from a delicious meal.  Definitely a big fan of this meal.  However, after having seen the a la carte menu, the dishes seemed a bit overpriced for a kebab ($28) and gnocchi ($26).  Thanks to restaurant week, we were able to enjoy ourselves as well as the delicious food, adding another great night of dining to our list of summer adventures.

XO,

G

Taboon – 773 10th Avenue (at 52nd Street) – New York, NY

Taboon
Price: $$$
Location: Hell’s Kitchen, NY
Type: Mediterranean 
Perfect For: Date Night, Dining Solo, Big Groups
Open: Everyday
Reservations: Available via OpenTable
Favorite Dishes: Chickpea Gnocchi, Blackened Shrimp, Rosemary Flat Bread and Dips
Official Website

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