Fine fare in the air
Courtesy of 42
Smoke and Mirrors. You'll get both-Literally-at 43, a place to see and be seen in White Plains. Suffused with swank and possessed of minimalist decor and super-fawning staff, this restaurant with a view is found on the 42nd floor of the Ritz-Carlton building.
The restaurant tries everything short of rotating to win the crowd. While waiting for your first course, for example, you'll be presented with a tray of sea salts- plain, charcoal, smoked and Hawaiian-as if they were gold, frankincense and myrrh. An amuse-bouche consisting of a single baby beet garnished with ginger is hailed as a"gift from the chef," Anthony Goncalves (also the owner). To its credit, the waitstaff is as deferential toward diners as it is reverential when invoking Goncalves-name.
The flourishes are fine-even entertaining-but they set the bar high. To this critic's palate, more substance and less style could make 42 a must-visit destination for those in search of memorable flavors along with the atmospherics. A chunky terrine of ground bison and pork, for example, boasts a fabulous texture-a grainy heft that feels substantial in the mouth-yet tastes oddly wan.
On a bright note, the langostino cru, a deconstructed ceviche, fulfills its promise: Thin translucent slices of the seafood lie in a lovely marinade of excellent olive oil and citrus; the dried Serrano ham and pineapple slices bookending the langostino are meant to be crumbled atop and crumble we did, creating transcendent forkfuls of sweet and savory, fat and acid, crisp and tender.
For all the pomp of its presentation (it's plated on a mirror), the Portuguese octopus was just so-so. The fish itself (just three 2-inch pieces) was well cooked and lightly seasoned, but was perched on a round of bland quinoa. There were two silver-dollar-size dollops on the plate‚- one, citrus gastrique; the other, ver jus‚-and several small mango cubes, but these seemed dissociated elements.
The Strauss Veal Louis--favorite, we were told, of building owner Louis Cappelli-is a well-executed entree, rolled in pancetta and roasted to tender-pink perfection, the milky meat subtle and refined. It's accompanied by a robust potato pancake that's both light and comforting, and its plaudits are well earned. Alas, the same can't be said for the Bridgeport Lobster, a shelled 1 1/2-pound specimen tossed with spaghetti and spinach. So spicy as to erase the seafood's flavor, it makes a strong case for sticking to simple steamed lobster, City Island style.
Dessert isn't always what you expect. A "creamsicle‚" turns out to be a cold and smoky molecular creation; the cheesecake, a glassful of foamy liquid with a vague hint of cheesecake flavor and a layer of graham cracker crumbs. We opted for a cheese course and were thankful that the Smoky Oregon Blue, Chevre Noir and Grayson we sampled (three for $15) were just what we ordered-and delicious with the country bread.
1 Renaissance Square, White Plains; 914-761-4242; www.42therestaurant.com
Hours Lunch: Tuesday through Friday, 12 p.m - 3 p.m.; Dinner: Tuesday through Saturday, 5 p.m.-10:30 p.m. Brunch: Sunday, 11 a.m- 3 p.m.
What you should know
- Entrees from $23 to $54
- 4-course market special tasting menu$42; 5-course chef tasting menu $62; 7-course chef tasting menu $85
- Full bar
- Walk-ins accepted but reservations suggested
- Private parties accommodated
- Handicapped accessible
- All major credit cards accepted