Thursday, April 12, 2007

Falafel Crusted Salmon or a Great Night at Aquagrill

Alex's mom was in town on Monday night and we were able to get a last minute reservation at Aquagrill, a wonderful seafood restaurant at Spring and 6th Ave in Soho. I've eaten at Aquagrill about ten times now and each time has been a pleasure. You might be wondering why I have eaten at this one restaurant 10 times in my two plus years in NYC. The answer boils down to simple geography and a family penchant for oysters. My sister lived around the corner from Aquagrill for 6 years and I subleased two different apartments nearby. I've been lucky to have such a great restaurant at my doorstep.

I love oysters. I really really do. Aqua grill has an amazing selection of oysters. I mean seriously look at this. They have 25 or 30 of these varieties on their menu at any one time. I don't think I've ever had a bad oyster there. The list can be kind of daunting, it isn't unusual that I'm only familiar with a handful of the varieties on the list at any given time, but thankfully their staff is knowledgeable and helpful when it comes to picking a selection of oysters. Monday night, the three of us ordered 18 oysters. We had 6 varieties, two of which I picked and the rest were left to the waiter. I chose Imperial Eagle Oysters and Carlsbad Blonde Oysters, purely because I liked the names, of course they were all of our least favorites. The Buzzard's Bay oysters and the Duck Island oysters (both the waiter's choice) were so good we ended up ordering another round of just those two. They are both medium sized, medium deep oysters from the north east US. The main difference is that the Buzzard’s Bay oysters are a little bit saltier and brinier than the Duck Island Oysters. Both went down nicely with the French Chenin Blanc that we were drinking.

For the main course I had the special Wasabi marinated Mahi Mahi which was strongly recommended by the waiter. He actually persuaded me to change my order from the Truffle Crusted Chatham Cod. Alex finally got her Falafel Crusted Salmon that she had been craving for months since our last visit to Aquagrill and Alex’s mom got the Bouillabaisse.

My Mahi Mahi was served with two large shrimp ravioli. I either missed it on the menu or it wasn’t there, but the shrimp ravioli might have been more accurately described as wasabi ravioli with shrimp instead of shrimp ravioli. My first large bite of the ravioli cleared my sinuses and made my eyes water a little bit. For non-sushi eaters or for people who don’t like wasabi, this would have been unbearable, but fortunately I’ve been known to put an absurd amount of wasabi on my sushi so this was just a little bit of a surprise, nothing unappetizing. Also if you don’t like wasabi you wouldn’t order this dish anyway, so I don’t think it is that big of a deal. My mahi mahi was well flavored with a nice wasabi kick from the marinade. The fish was tender and fresh, the flavor was great, but it was a cold night and it felt kind of like a summer, warm weather dish.

Alex’s mom’s bouillabaisse was pretty typical bouillabaisse with a tomato broth and a generous serving of shell fish and poached cod, including half of a lobster tail. The bouillabaisse was perfect for the weather and I think Meg enjoyed it. I’m not a huge fan of bouillabaisse in general, but I know for some (like my mom) it is just divine, so I’m not going to give any opinion about Aquagrill’s, I’m sure it is fine. I must say though, I did sneak a bite of the lobster tail and it was tender and flavorful. It seemed to have not taken on too much of the flavor of the broth, but maintained its integrity as lobster.

Alex’s dish, the Falafel Crusted Salmon, was the star of the show. I’ve had bites of this salmon before, but for some reason the crunchiness of the falafel mixed with the lemon coriander vinaigrette and the creaminess of the sauce is really excellent. After my first bite I wanted to steal Alex’s plate and run away with it. I finally understood why Alex had been pestering me to get reservations at Aquagrill. This salmon is probably the most talked about dish at Aquagrill and it is for a good reason. It is really an inspired dish. I’ve searched the interweb for a recipe and the best I have found is this. I don’t think it is going to compare. I hope the chefs and owners of Aquagrill, Jeremy and Jennifer Marshall, will someday write a cookbook, until then it is going to be trial and error in my kitchen.

So when you are craving some great seafood, head to Aquagrill. Make a reservation if you can, but they do take walk-ins.

1 comment:

Adelaide said...

Can you believe I have NEVER had an oyster? I'll have to go out with pros like you and Alex for my first one!