Restaurant Review: Narcissa, NYC

My husband follows restaurant openings in NYC on EATER and managed to snag a reservation at Narcissa.  Much as been written about this newly opened hot spot at the Standard hotel so we decided to check it out and see what all the fuss was about.

We first accidentally walked into the lobby of the Standard hotel, only to be redirected to a door a few feet to the left of the main entrance by a ultra-helpful and cheery bell hop.  The path leading up the door had string lights and in my mind this is always a good thing.

String lights rock.  Plus 1 point for Narcissa.

Crisped Beets at Narcissa, Soho

Crisped Beets at Narcissa

{Apologies for the terrible quality of the photos.  They were taken with my camera phone.  Booo.}

The small waiting area was graced by 2 hostesses and a maitre’d who bore a striking resemblance to Laurence Fishburne.  Sadly we were never asked if it was the red pill or the blue pill we wanted.  Nevertheless, coats were taken, our presence was acknowledged and we were made to wait for about 15 minutes before we were seated.  We took this opportunity to take in the surroundings.

To the left of the waiting area is a dining room that gives you a direct view into the open kitchen, where you can watch your dinner being rotisseried if that’s your thing.  The room is a little brighter than the other half of the restaurant, presumably to ensure that the kitchen staff doesn’t serve you a finger with your carrot fries.

We chose to sit in the main dining room, which was beautifully decorated and absolutely packed at 10PM.  Yes I said 10PM – a late reservation was all we could manage.  If you enjoy a sceney vibe with equal measure of swagger and skin on full display – this is definitely the place to be.  Seriously, who wears backless mini dresses in frigid February?  Ladies who eat at Narcissa, that’s who.  Except yours truly, who was dressed like a homeless Eskimo.

We ordered the Rotisserie-Crisped Beets and the Short Ribs as appetizers.  The beets were tender and sweet, with a gorgeous bright pink hue and yielding texture.  These were served on a perfectly seasoned bed of yoghurt and bulgur salad.  The tartness of the yoghurt cut through the one dimensional sweetness of the beets making each mouthful a perfect amalgam of flavors.  I didn’t really taste the horseradish which was shaved over the dish, but didn’t really miss the spicy kick they could have contributed.  The short ribs were tender, but the crusty bark didn’t speak of the pastrami spices they were supposed to be crusted with.  Perhaps a more aggressive hand with the seasoning might help?  The buttermilk dressing really elevated this dish though - the right amount of tang to add interest without being overwhelming.

Short ribs at Narcissa, Soho

Short ribs at Narcissa

For our main course, we shared the whole rotisseried branzino.  This was served as two skinned fillets and as one would expect with rotisseried fish, the delicate meat was tender and juicy.  A dressed salad of  fennel and arugula topped the fillets, adding freshness and crunch.  A few pin bones here and there, but overall this was a very enjoyable dish.  No complaints here.  Kudos to Chef John Fraser.

Rotisseried Branzino at Narcissa

Rotisseried Branzino at Narcissa

 

We paired our dinner with a hoppy IPA and the ‘So Pretty’ cocktail – both respectably good accompaniments to our meal.  We thought the meal was reasonably priced considering the calibre of the food served.

We found service to be a little haphazard – the staff at the front of the restaurant appeared harried and confused.  But once seated, our server was extremely attentive and sweet.  We’ll chalk the front desk issues up to a busy Saturday night and growing pains, which we hope Narcissa will address soon.

All in all, we recommend Narcissa for a fun, trendy meal in NYC.

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