When two girls from London's River Café move to New York and open a restaurant with white washed walls and wicker chairs, you book a table for the next celebration opportunity. That celebration just so happened to be my birthday.
Going out in Manhattan is a rarity for us Brooklynites. Now that my office is also based in this outer borough, it's rare I even step foot on that little, chaotic, noisy island, let alone go out there in the evening. But, sometimes it's worth stepping over the Brooklyn Bridge to see what's happening amongst all the bright lights.
Serving seasonal, simple food, with influences from both Italy and Southern France, King's daily changing menu is one you can't help but love. The white brick walls and open, brass light-fittings make you feel like you're in London, the woven chairs and white tablecloths transport you to Paris, and then the diamond-wearing women around you and the beautiful linen shirts sported by the front of house remind you that, this evening, you really are in Manhattan. The space is simple, and understated, but the people, service, and food take it up to the next level. Much like The River Café itself.
The short menu is fresh and seasonal. We began with a beautiful, giant, rosemary, salt, and olive oil-coated carta di musica (see top photo), which was handed to us with our cocktails.
Panisse followed. These are essentially chickpea fries. The polenta-like batter is fried until every piece is super crisp on the outside, slightly soft in the middle, and is then coated in salt and sage. All drinks should be accompanied by these salty treats. Ricotta with shaved fennel came next. Creamy ricotta, crisp, herbal fennel, and a splash of bright olive oil transforms these simple ingredients into an elegant dish.
We fought over every strand of pappardelle with pork ragù. Thick strips of fresh al dente pasta with meaty, smushy (not a word, I know) sauce tangled between the pieces made us very happy. I persuaded B to have fish (it was my birthday after all), so we shared the most giant piece of skate. Charred and dark on the outside, the white flesh was almost delicate as it fell off its thick bones. The greens tossed with mashed anchovies added salty, iron-rich flavors to this stunning fish.
A beautiful slice of walnut tart with a pot of thick cream then came flying towards us. These few bites of sweet, nutty filling, surrounded by the thinnest pastry, and doused in a puddle of cream made the most beautiful ending to a beautiful evening. It was worth the trip over to the other side of the bridge.
King, 18 King Street, New York, NY 10014.