Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A peanut butter cookie so good it makes you want to play hooky.

A couple of weeks ago, my colleagues Lory, Julie and I decided it was high time for a proper lunch, one not eaten at a desk or conference table, but in a restaurant - with waiters and everything! Our other reason for venturing outside was to check out the offerings at Má Pêche, David Chang's new restaurant in the Chambers Hotel.

Chang is taking over the old Town. space (No, that period is not mispunctuation. The restaurant really had a period in its name.), and the full-scale restaurant is set to open in January. In the meantime, he's trying out a pared-down version of the Vietnamese menu in the hotel's lounge area, just upstairs from the lobby. The experience is indeed lounge-y, with low-slung tables, couches and poufs.

There's an à la carte menu (featuring a rumored-to-be-delish burger and fries) as well a $10 prix fixe option. (Note: a salad in midtown will run you about $12, so this is an excellent deal.) We all went for the prix fixe; Lory and I ordered the bun (rice noodles with pork) and Julie went for the chicken terrine banh mi.

The noodles were delicious; the pork ragout was rich and meaty with a nice spicy kick (me being me, I added a bit of Sriracha to mine) balanced by the saw leaf and some of cilantro. (There was a bit too much cilantro for me, though I know other people just can't get enough.) The noodles themselves were sheets of rice noodle rolled into cigars and lightly browned. I'd never seen bun done that way, but I loved the alternately chewy, crispy and tender textures the method produced. The best part might have been the crispy shallots sprinkled all over the top - Lory and I both wanted a whole bowl of just those.

Julie's terrine was also tasty; a thoroughly respectable version of Momofuku's standard three-terrine model, this banh mi was served with the traditional herbs and carrot-and-daikon pickle. The chicken terrine was moist and really flavorful; for some reason, I was worried this would be just another grilled chicken sandwich - luckily, I was wrong!

For dessert, we each ordered a Milk Bar peanut butter cookie. These cookies were INSANE. Big, but not huge, they tasted strongly of peanut butter and had some sort of caramel swirl running through them...I'm now in desperate need of the recipe, lest I never taste anything this delicious ever again. If you have it, give it up.

I mean it.

Má Pêche
15 West 56th Street
Between 5th and 6th

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