Friday, September 3, 2010

10 Downing

Since making Chef Fish Lydon's Butterscotch Pudding I had wanted to visit 10 Downing. Thanks to Meg's amazing organizational skills I was able to do so during Restaurant Week in July with her, Holly and Laurie. When I looked up the menu I saw they were only offering a Coffee Butterscotch Pot de Creme, so I knew my dessert dream would go unfilled but I figured what the heck.10 Downing is an open space with outdoor seating, eclectic decor, and a very high ceiling, which causes it to be quite loud. Its service was erratic but not so much so that I'd attribute it to anything beyond Restaurant Week's frenzy.

To start we devoured the complimentary slightly grainy White Bean Hummus (?) accompanied by toothsome Ciabatta Bread and then savored the Chilled Tomato Soup with Watercress and Micro Basil, a refreshing and creamy soup with a cooling cucumber flavor. Our table ordered two of each entree: Pan-Roasted Diver Scallops with Sauteed Clams, Sweet Corn and Tarragon and Grilled Spiced Rubbed Tri-Tip with Radicchio, Farro and Bone Marrow Jus. Obviously I had the "sea marshmallows," which were expertly cooked. I couldn't stop scooping up the silky scallops with their crispy, caramelized exterior and the creamy, sweet corn. The Tri-Tip wasn't as good: the meat was a little tough and the sweet, charred Radicchio caused conflicted feelings. Was it addictive or off putting?

For dessert, I chose the Humbolt Fog Goat Cheese with Tomato Jam, Toast and Candied Walnuts to be  contrarian; everyone else had the ButterMilk Panna Cotta with Roasted Peaches in Balsamic Syrup, which was the better choice. The Panna Cotta was smooth and slightly sweet with an unlisted hint of citrus; the peaches in syrup were surprisingly sour but I assume this was intentional as it encouraged me to savor the whole dish rather than consume the pieces. My dessert's highlight was the crunchy, buttery, salty and sweet candied walnuts. I would have been to happy to have a cup of them alone!

Now we come to the part of dinner where 10 Downing KILLED me. Their in restaurant menu had Butterscotch Pot de Creme listed with no mention of coffee. I squealed and immediately ordered it while my friends waited patiently. You can imagine what happens next. It arrives, I gaze lovingly at it and spoon in to find the flavor to be coffee. I was crushed and after encouragement from my friends explained the disappointment to the server and it was kindly removed from the bill - very nice of them.

Overall, our consensus was that we really wanted to like 10 Downing but were disappointed with the food for their price point. Their menu descriptions were somewhat misleading and while enjoyable the food was a touch oversalted. That said I'm glad I went and wouldn't tell anyone NOT to go though I don't have grand and glorious plans to go back (irregardless of the Butterscotch Pot de Creme's menu status).

Location: 10 Downing Street (at Sixth Avenue just south of Bleecker Street)
Hours: Lunch Tuesday - Friday 12-3 p.m.; Dinner Daily 5:30-12 a.m.; Brunch Saturday & Sunday 10-4 p.m. 
Cost: $$$ 

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