Compose, a restaurant encompassing all food trends 2010 - iPad wine list, a fancy cocktails, laser cut ice, high end coffee - opened to the public late last month. From the owner of Tribeca coffee shop RBC NYC, the new restaurant also has a ten-seat dining counter where diners can consume chef Nick Curtin's ten-course tasting menu. But as opposed to the gruff service styles of counterparts Momofuku Ko and The Brooklyn Fare, the FOH staff here promised to bring about a more hospitable, Eleven Madison Park style, service. The meal is meant to be interactive, flexible, informational.
Does it come across? Not many patrons have filed on the actual tasting menu but there are a lot of thoughts on the space, the bar, the a la carte offerings. To the early word:
The "Too Complicated" News: The Wandering Epicures visits and it's sounding like a mixed bag. "The hors d’oeuvre was a little bowl of duck fat popcorn sprayed with thyme-rosemary oil. This was more interesting than it looks... Crudo of Fluke. The raw fluke was fresh and good, nicely enhanced by the cucumber ribbons, the cucumber/basil broth and a touch of jalapeño.. Razor Clams. I thought that this dish was disappointing. The razor clams had little flavor; the almond broth was nice, but had little to enhance... Poached egg. This was a good, subtle dish dominated by the artichoke purée underneath.. Iced Honey/Lavender Crème Brulée, Almond Crust. A tiny, fine end to a fine big meal." Final thoughts on the meal, expressed to chef Curtin, were critical, but honest. "I expressed my opinion that many of the dishes were too complicated, that most didn’t need so many ingredients. I said that I was frustrated by the small size of some of the dishes." Despite some shortcomings, they'll be back. "We will be interested to see the evolution when we return, as we certainly will. We enjoyed a lovely evening." [The Wandering Epicures]
The Confusing News: Tribeca Citizen visits or, rather, attempts to visit but is thwarted by a confused staff. "My partner arrived 20 minutes early: “The hostess led me to a low banquette by the Worth Street windows. I was just happy to have a place to wait, because the restaurant is tiny. I began to realize that there were no open spots for us to sit at and that people were eating at these low banquettes and stools, but I was 90 percent sure we weren’t eating there—it didn’t seem possible.”" It doesn't get much better after the writer arrives on the scene. "So I asked the hostess whether we’d be seated soon or whether we should order a drink. “Well,” she said politely, “what you see around you is all the seating we have. A space might open up at the bar, but probably not until at least 9 p.m.” “I’m sorry, but I don’t understand. Was my reservation for that little banquette with no table?”... She offered to find the manager, but I didn’t see the point of that, and we left." [Tribeca Citizen]
The Precious News: Chowhounder Mickeymouth is not happy when weighing what was consumed with what was paid. "I just got back, and my wallet is lighter by $170. We couldn't get the tasting menu reservations so we settled for the ala carte fare. Fried chick peas with chirizo, tiny seared scallops, a small charcuterie, and mussels in mustard, and a small fluke in butter sauce as entrees. From my vantage point, seated right beside some of the chosen tasting patrons, no one was savoring anything. No one gushed or gasped at how great, or other worldly their experience was. I actually felt they were trying to convince themselves this was a unique experience, even if the food was just okay. That's how I felt about my meal. Just okay. Nothing extraordinary. Anyone remember Zipangu or 5 years ago at Per Se? It's not here. But why just 10 elite plates? The entire restaurant can only seat 24 patrons. Would it be so difficult, or unmanagable to produce 14 more servings of the tiny plates I saw being placed in front of the people next to me? I think "precious" is the operative word for this place." [CH]
The Incredible News: Yelper Sven K. is head over heels in love with the place. "It was incredible! I "try" hard to sample drinks from many fine bars in NYC: Compose takes the cake. Our Bartender Brian chatted with us all night and every drink he made was better than the last. He took our comments on each drink to heart as he lovingly crafted the next one. While I have not yet had a chance to sample the full tasting menu, the food that we had with the drinks was unique, exquisite, and (most importantly) delicious. Can't recommend this place any more!" [Yelp]
The Great News: Yelper neeraj r. must really like this place because they've already checked in here twice. The review bears that out. "We only had the the bar menu, and will go back for the the tasting menu. Nick Curtin (chef) did come out and explain our dishes to us. Sorry I am not a writer, but really enjoyed the food and atmosphere (very elegant yet relaxed)." The food. "Crispy Poached egg with cornichon emulsion, black radish - I really like breakfast type foods and can eat this anytime of the day... Popcorn with herb infused duck Fat - How can you really go wrong with duck fat... Seared scallop with bacon lardon, apple brown butter - I wish there was more. This was delicious." And about that cocktail menu. "There is no cocktail menu, instead you name your spirit and its bartenders choice after getting a few answers from you in what you like. You could ask them to make you a cocktail of your choosing but what is the fun in that." The final verdict? "Fun night out. thanks." [Yelp]
The Mediocre News: From Twitter comes two tweets from @CosmicGirl24 that don't exactly brim with praise. Her first tweet offers up some damning observations. "A la carte menu: lots of $$$ for mediocre glorified bar snacks. Tasting menu wasn't wowing fellow diners." Her follow-up tweet isn't any better. "We sat at the bar, elbow to elbow with those lucky enough to get a tasting menu resy, which made us feel oddly unworthy." [Twitter]