Monday, November 07, 2005


Yes, "Hearth." A restaurant on 12th St & 1st Ave. that offers a truly satisfying dining experience. It's not that the food is better than anywhere else, though it is certainly at the top of the ladder. It's not that the atmosphere is overly spectacular - in fact when we ate there was a very loud table of ladies adjacent to us, clearly enjoying a night on the company - though it is warm and inviting. It's also not that the service is exceedingly perfect, though it was helpful, friendly and genuine. Hearth is a success because of synergy. As a whole, the restaurant's various elements come together to elevate the overall dining experience.

The place has a very New York charm with warm lighting and old bronze cookware hanging from raw-brick walls. There is a bar with plenty of stools, and a barman that would make you feel comfortable dining alone, with a book as companion. The brightly lit kitchen is visible on entry, as well as the rather interesting 'kitchenbar' - with diners seated along a bar to watch the chefs in action. The menu is an eclectic mix of seasonal items, all cooked in the kitchen hearth. It's a kind of American country-style food but with a dash more flair and elegance. There is roast quail, duck pappardelle, braised lamb, blue-foot chicken (not all chicken is created equal after all...) and assorted other gems. I particularly recommend the side of gnocci as an appetizer. The little potato pieces are so soft they melt onto the tongue, with a delicate and simple seasoning. The wine list does hold some very nice items, but is far too confusingly laid out. Skip it and simply ask the affable sommelier for recommendations at your desired price point and style. Or just try one of the farmhouse ales on the chalkboard.

Hearth manages to provide flavorful, interesting and well, just very satisfying dinner. Everything seems naturally well-suited to enhance the meal. The only slight flaws were an extended delay between courses (likely because of that large table of noisy ladies) and the user-unfriendly winelist. Other than that - make your reservation now for some dining pleasure!!!!


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