Eating at Institutions

Pat Bradley |

First of all: I have to apologize because 1. I clearly love sparkling wine and when I was asked to write for a wine blog, I didn't foresee that it was all that I'd have to write about and 2. I'm a Manhattanite by residence; hence, Manhattan is where I spend most of my time. Yet: I still like to think of myself as having a discerning nature (even if I don't venture south of Tribeca, or beyond FDR Drive) and even though I tend to avoid "hot" and trendy restaurants, I do like to revisit the N. Y. C. institutions. One of those institutions is Jean-Georges' Mercer Kitchen in SoHo.

I'd been going to Mercer Kitchen since it first opened in 1998 and it didn't take long to realize that skate is the best thing that they do. I recently went with a good friend with whom we began our evening with a bottle of champagne and a seafood platter (chilled lobster, shrimp cocktail, mussels, oysters and littleneck clams) which we'd enjoyed slowly before moving on to additional dishes. One of the things that has prolonged my interest in this SoHo staple is that in recent years, they've expanded their menu and added more seasonal dishes. On this evening, I was rather excited to try roasted squash with prosciutto and pecorino. The appetizer was absolutely delicious; however, I may be partial as I'm absolutely mad about fall squash. What had literally become several glasses of wine later (we followed our champagne with cava), my at-last steamed skate with tarragon, sesame seed, asparagus and sushi rice had arrived. It was a matter of seconds before I was immersed in the aroma of freshly-chopped tarragon, wafting upward by the warmth of the skate. And as always, the skate was perfectly moist and expertly cooked (as well as the sushi rice)--it's a rare dish in the city, because whether you've had the dish last night or last year, it's always as good as you'd remembered.

Non-vintage skate, anyone?