Friday, October 29, 2010

Eating Out: Part One-Acacia MidTown

Alright, y'all, I have decided to try my hand at restaurant reviewing. After all, I have been eating at some very lovely restaurants and it would be improper for me to withhold my findings from you.

It being restaurant week, a friend from my program suggested a few of us - as in 10 of us! - try someplace on the list. We picked Acacia - which I was very excited about because so many people recommend this place when I first moved here. Now, many people stay out of restaurants on Restaurant Week, but I don't particularly agree with that. If a restaurant can pull out a great menu on a super busy night, then I know it'll be even better on a low-key one. And that's a handy thing to know.

So, the decor. I must mention this because it confused me... like a rustic home/underground nightspot. There were wooden kitchen tables for large groups, and booths by a colorful bar, and then in the back a curtained area for parties. The lighting was low - very low, but I didn't mind that so much. The waitress greeted us with a smile and we were given the cocktail menu. It looked delish - but I just couldn't drop $10 on a drink. I'd go back exclusively for that, however.

The variety of course offerings was quite impressive. For my first course, I decided on the homemade gnocchi with duck confit and cranberry sauce. In a word: divine. I have never, ever - not even in Italy - had gnocchi that good. They had been flash fried before service, giving a lovely little crunch and they weren't sticky or gluten-y at all. I was extremely impressed. The portion size was good, too - piled high with sauteed chard and duck, covered with the right amount of cranberry sauce.

For my main course, I had to decide between the ribeye with bone marrow pancake and the duck breast wrapped in bacon with mashed sweet potatoes. My overall impression on this: 7. While my duck was cooked, my friend's was almost raw in places. And while I do think bacon is delicious, I thought they had over-wrapped the meat. Also, they stuffed it with pineapple which I didn't particularly enjoy - apple might have been better. I would have liked more spice and texture to the sweet potatoes, but the broccoli rabe was cooked perfectly. I took some of the duck home and ate it the day after and was very happy to find it tasted almost better than the day it was served - that's when I realized, they had served it lukewarm. I'll attribute this to the fact that there were 10 people in our group and everyone was served at once. The service was impeccable, can't forget that detail. Oh! and the duck in the picture below looks much larger than it actually was :) At any rate, the portion here was much better compared to the size of what we were served for dessert...

For my last course I chose the apple ginger mouse cake with caramel mouse and creme fraiche sorbet. Faaaancy, eh? It was very good. The mouse had a wonderful flavor - like the burnt caramel part of creme brulee. The ginger apple layer was also very good - the constancy of apple butter. The cake part I could go without, personally - it was squeaky and tough to chew. The sorbet was nice, but let's face it - it was more like vanilla ice cream. Again, this is not to scale.

Now, hilarity ensued when the following was placed in front of two guys at the table. Yes, this is what was marketed as "black forest cake with cherry sorbet." Where is the cake, you ask - oh it's there - those two crumbs. Seriously, Acacia? We were one of the last groups of costumers of the night so I doubt they had run THAT low on cake.

Overall, I am glad I tried this restaurant. Their menu was seasonal and the ingredients were fresh and well prepared, for the most part. Acacia fell short on dessert and side dishes, but the gnocchi alone made the $25 worth it - they were THAT good.


  1. Sounds like they fried those gnocchi's in duck fat to finish them. But, getting the dough right is more half the battle, right?

    About those cake crumbs... I'm having deja vu. The same thing happened to my wife. She ordered chocolate cake, but it was the size of a truffle, dwarfed by the little scoop of ice cream. Both little things arranged artistically on a big plate. Of course, the flavor was big, even though the piece was small. So, the concept was clear: satisfying richness worth savoring. Regardless, I wonder how much they were making on that cake per pound.

  2. Yes, you are so right - gnocchi is a difficult dish to make well - especially when feeding a crowd.

    You know, I don't mind tiny portions - it's just that when the menu sets them up to seem different I am surprised when my expectations aren't met. When you see the word "decadent sundae," for instance, do you imagine a single cannel of ice cream with a drizzle of syrup? I don't. And I didn't pay half my month's food budget to savor a dime-sized piece of cake crumb. So call it a "tasting" or an "amuse bouche." Or at least have some focal point on the dish so my eyes don't wander right off the plate.

    I think you'll enjoy the next restaurant I post on :) Eating there was an amazing experience.

  3. OMG you described it very clearly, but I guess I wasn't prepared for the picture. hahahahahahaha. everything looks delicious. i'm so hungry now....


  4. WHOA. Are you serious about that cake? That is just blasphemy, if you ask me. And....I didn't know a food could be "squeaky", hehe. :)