When your parents are in town and you are tasked with choosing a spot for dinner that can handle a Saturday night table of 4 in NYC on short notice, your options are often pretty limited. Because restaurants have such restricted space and have enormous competition for popular tables on weekends, you need may need to dig deep to find something suitable. Fortunately on this occasion, my girlfriend Amy had an idea, Market Table, a place that has somehow slid under my restaurant radar until now. They did in fact have a day-of four-top table reservation available on a Saturday night.
The restaurant is very romantic feeling. It’s low lit with flickering candles with lots of earthy wood tones. You understand the vibe that they are going for – sexy date night. Market Table is the sister restaurant to the ever-popular West Village restaurant, Little Owl – which for the record did not have a table for four available.
We ordered a number of appetizers for the table, starting with the Soft Shell Crab. Somewhat unbelievably this was the second day in a row I’d had the pleasure of eating fried soft shell crab, giving me the unique opportunity to compare the different preparations.
Market Table’s version was encrusted in cornmeal and served over a bed of summer succotash, corn purée, and shishito remoulade. The texture was perfectly crispy, with plenty of tender, moist crab meat inside, and a burst of flavor from the fresh combination of vegetables. This upscale version of fried soft shell crab was expertly executed and forced me to swipe up every last bite from the plate.
In an attempt to be a little healthy, we also ordered the Beet Salad. This salad was about a good as a completely vegetarian salad could be. (Editor’s Note: I made this claim before experiencing Burmese Tea Leaf Salad.) Most of the flavor came from the large hunks of luscious, maroon-colored beets, but was contrasted nicely by the rich, creamy goat cheese, crunchy & nutty hazelnuts, herbs, and horseradish cream dressing.
Next up was a dish I cannot resist whenever I see it on a menu, Beef Carpaccio. It’s such a simple idea, thin-sliced raw beef, but every version is so completely different – especially this one. The base of the dish was a classic carpaccio, but on top was a bed of what they called a “french fry salad” with parmesan, egg, and dijon.
The french fries and greens may have distracted from the beef itself, but they were delicious in their own right. I just think the beef was best enjoyed in a separate bite from the fries and greens. And the fries and greens were best separate from the beef.
My parents had raved about the Cauliflower side dish from a previous visit and insisted that I had to try it this time. This cauliflower was nicely done and came topped with the interesting combination of golden raisins, pine nuts, and sherry gastrique. But, I found that the florets hadn’t softened enough during the cooking process.
I have been cooking a lot more recently and cauliflower is one of the things I feel I have truly mastered. So, I hate to say it Mom and Dad, but I think my cauliflower is better than Market Table’s version. PS. I recently cooked this cauliflower recipe (though I subbed edamame for peas and smoked Hungarian paprika for ancho chili powder) and it came out extraordinarily well.
For my main course I chose the daily special, a Roast Suckling Pig. How could I not? The meat was extremely moist, tender, and flavorful and was served over a bed of garlicky greens with a creamy, Southwestern influenced sauce. It was also topped with a sheet of crackling skin that was fried to absolute perfection. This is one of the best pork preparations I’ve ever eaten. Every bite left me in dreamy bliss. Plate = polished.
At the conclusion of the meal, they also did this cool thing where the check arrived in a little black book. Every page had doodles or passages written by previous visitors to leave their mark to honor the memory of their excellent meal.
Basically, I don’t know how I hadn’t heard of this restaurant before or why it took me so long to get there. Every dish was fantastic and bursting with bold flavors and the environment was perfect for either a meal with your parents or a date night with your girlfriend. This place gets my whole-hearted seal of approval.
Got another great dinner spot for when your parents are in town? Let me know in the comments below.
54 Carmine St, New York, NY 10014