Rhubarb – Blanco Tequila, Lime, Bitter Orange, Salt Foam, Tonic
Crawfish Boil Crackers
Morgan’s Meats – Pork Rillettes, Pickled Red Onions
Popcorn Monkfish – Aioli
Chawanmushi – Nori, Crispy Scallions
Duck Chakna – Red Lentil Naan, Pear Chutney
Carrot Crepe – Little Neck Clams, Sunflower
Rutabaga Tagliatelle – Burgundy Black Truffle, Brown Butter
Sauteed Soft Shell Crab – Pickled Peppers, Ranch Dressing, Ramps
Horizonte – Columbia / La Joya – Ecuador
Caramel Apple Donuts – Salty Caramel Sauce
S’mores – Housemade Marshmallows, Artisan Graham Crackers, Hershey
Owned and operated by Greg Baxtrom and Ian Rothman out in Prospect Heights, the concept at first seeming much the same as many with a Chef-driven menu based on seasonality, Olmsted differentiates itself from the pack by way of a backyard Garden and living wall from which many of its ingredients are sourced, the 50-seat space a near-impossible reservation after receiving attention as a Best New Restaurant contender at the James Beard Foundation Awards.
Named after a deceased local architect, the narrow and straight space leading to a garden where a fire-pit offering Drinks, small Bites and a special Dessert experience offers additional seating for approximately a dozen, those visiting Olmsted will be greeted promptly at the hostess podium where reservations are confirmed before being led to one of many wood tables, the noise level near the front far more quiet than at the back, in part due to the location of speakers and in part due to the fact that the bar and kitchen lie along the same wall, which thus compresses many of the tables against a brick wall lined in Plants.
Open as a first-come-first-serve restaurant on Mondays only, the other days booked as soon as reservations open via the website, it was after getting comfortable that menus were presented along with verbalized daily specials and a clipboard Cocktail list, the prices occasionally precocious, though the presentations and flavors are frequently on par with several of New York’s top fine dining establishments.
Beginning with a Cocktail and Water, the plates rustic and attractive though cups are unnecessarily small which necessitates servers leaving pitchers of water with the table, fans of innovative drinks have already made “Give Peas a Chance” a social media sensation, the Tequila-based “Rhubarb” not as photogenic but fresh and refreshing which paired well with Crawfish Boil Crackers that tasted exactly as they are named with the texture of Chicharrón while a daily dish entitled “Morgan’s Meats” featured smooth shredded Pork served with Toast and Pickled Onions.
Continuing with “Snacks,” Chef Baxtrom no stranger to crafting single bites with complexity and big flavor following stints at Alinea, Atera and Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Popcorn Monkfish offered a basket of lightly fried Fish alongside Radishes and a herbal Aioli while the daily special Chawanmushi executed on par with any experienced to date stateside, the Custard smooth and jiggly with the flavor of Shellfish and Mushrooms beneath fried Scallions and Nori added for texture.
Without doubt a global menu suited to concept of Vegetable-centric fare and sustainability, the newly famous orange Crepe with trimmed Clams, Sunflower Seeds and razor-thin Carrot slices as delicate and precise as anything one might see at Per Se, Baxtrom’s best dish of the night came by way of the Indian-inspired Duck Chakna with confit Fowl ready to be loaded into Naan made with Red Lentils, the Soft-Shell Crab unfortunately a $22 disappointment that was overwhelmed by Peppers, the thick “Ranch” sauce sloppily placed on the plate and not really adding much to any of the other ingredients.
Appropriately impressed by the Rutabaga Tagliatelle, thin strips of the Tuber lightly steamed into al dente low-calorie Noodles and topped with sliced Black Truffles in Brown Butter, it was with two distinctly different styles of drip Coffee that a bag of Bombolini were enjoyed, the flavor not unlike that of a Cider Donut before being dipped into creamy Caramel Sauce, a fifteen minute wait quickly passed before the party of three was led out back to the Garden where sleeping Doves in cages watch diners place housemade Marshmallows on sticks before blackening them over a can of Embers and smashing them between Graham Crackers from a local Bakery plus a 50-cent Hershey Bar for twenty bucks, the cost largely related to time and taking up space rather than ingredient quality here, but worth it for the novelty and fun-factor.