Gotham Bar & Grill is one of those classic New York restaurants where it feels great just to walk into, with its soaring ceilings and polished decor. I had gone there once for dinner last spring and left stuffed and very satisfied (and dreaming of their signature chocolate cake for a week!) So it was great to head back there yesterday for the launch of“Greenmarket to Gotham 2012″, a seasonal lunch that runs for twelve weeks and supports both Greenmarket farms and the Grow to Learn NYC initiative.
I was invited to the event along with other NY bloggers including Ken, Jackie, Margaret, and Kristin to try out an all-vegetarian lunch from New Jersey-based Cherry Lane Farms. The lunches change every week to highlight a different Greenmarket farm. As you can see from the menu below, this one was a nice, light, and tasty way to start off the week.
(On a side note, I learned that chef Alfred Portale, in addition to creating the changing menus, is also the voice behind Gotham’s twitter handle as well as his own. How cool is that? It’s such a rare things these days for well-known chefs to be in their own kitchens, much less enthusiastically engaging with customers and fans about ingredients and new dishes.)
The green garlic soup (not pictured) was a great starter. It had a nice subtle hint of garlic and was topped off with a bit of raw sunchoke, which provided a pleasant crunch. I think I’ve only had roasted sunchokes before, and the appetizer got me thinking of how I can use raw slices in salads and cold soups.
Our main was a summer squash dish with a zucchini blossom stuffed with goat cheese, eggplant, and panisse. I don’t recall ever trying panisse before, but basically it’s a pan-fried cake similar to polenta but made with chickpea flour. We had a couple pieces in the entree, but I can also see this being quite the addictive snack. According to David Lebovitz, it’s also quite easy to make and can be served alongside grilled meat dishes or even dusted with sugar. Oh, the possibilities!
Dessert (top photo) was strawberry shortcake with white chocolate ganache and Thai basil ice cream (and petite fours which came after). Tasting small Greenmarket strawberries definitely signal the start of summer for me. As with the other courses, I was inspired to head off to the Greenmarket and see what else new is coming in from the farms around the New York area. And even if you’re not that into cooking, the lunch is still a great way to see how summer’s best produce can be used in creative ways.
Greenmarket to Gotham 2012 runs this year until Labor Day, with both meat and vegetarian options available. A dollar from every lunch goes toward the Grow to Learn NYC initiative to support citywide school gardens.