Sunday, May 3, 2009

Spice Market

Spice Market
403 W 13th Street

Situated among the mega-sized restaurants in the Meatpacking District lies the NYC location of Spice Market, a member of the Jean Georges empire of dining destinations. After hearing nothing but positive feedback from my roommate and coworker, I opted to check it out myself for a birthday dinner, compliments of the girlfriend (Thank you again).

Pushing open the obscenely tall entryway doors we are led to a table on the upper level of the restaurant, around the corner from the bar / lounge area which I'm told can get quite crowded. Being that it was my birthday I opted for the suggested kumquat mojito which, while I'm not sure completely fit in with the rest of the menu which is predominantly inspired by Indian cuisine, was refreshing and not too sugary, as mojitos can get.

While snacking on papadum, we placed an order for chicken samosas with cilantro yogurt ($10.50) and black pepper shrimp with sundried pineapple ($14.50). The three chicken samosas were crispier than a more traditional samosa and filled with spicy ground chicken. Not too much heat, and finished with a touch of cool cilantro yogurt made it a winning appetizer. The black pepper shrimp was covered in some kind of hoisin sauce, which I am a big fan of, but it was clearly too peppery for my taste and while I enjoyed the sun-dried pineapple, I can tell that it's not for everyone.

Chicken samosas:

Black pepper shrimp:

Ready for our entrees, I was pretty impressed with the red curry duck ($19). With a generous portion, both in curry sauce and duck meat, I was able to thoroughly enjoy the sweet and savory flavors of the dish. Scooping up the last bit of curry from the pot to mix it with some rice, I knew that this was a winning dish and that I would not hesitate to order it again.

Duck Curry:

Plated duck curry:

Our other entree, however, was nothing short of a disaster. To me, spicy shanghai noodles ($12) with tofu, garlic and herbs, sounds like an oily noodle dish, with some tofu in a garlicky sauce. What I would have given for some lo mein takeout. The entree was a bowl of thick udon noodles, cold tofu and what was essentially an entire salad made out of basil. No consistency of textures or flavors, we found ourselves suffering through leaf after leaf of basil until both of us called it quits. If I don't finish the plate, it's not good, and in this case, I couldn't make it past even a couple of tastes. The coconut rice which we ordered as a side wasn't anything I would order again, though it wasn't particularly bad. Duck = good; Noodles = bad.

Shanghai Noodles:

Coconut Rice:

For dessert, we tried the ovaltine kulfi ($9), served with caramelized bananas. The size of a couple kit kats, its fudge-like texture delivered an intense chocolaty taste which paired well with the bananas. The coffee and chocolate tart ($8) was light, creamy and was also a great way to end the meal.

Ovaltine Kulfi:

Coffee and chocolate tart:

Sure, there were definitely some misses and it's not cheap, but I would go back with some friends to either make a meal out of appetizers or split a few entrees, just no shanghai noodles.

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