I’ve always been curious to try One if By Land, Two if By Sea. I’ve known it for a while for two main reasons. One, I’ve heard it is one of the most romantic restaurants in the city. I’ve heard of many people getting engaged here or celebrating special occasions here, and have heard the food and atmosphere was of a quality to make it worthy to be chosen for such events. Secondly though, and perhaps more humorously, I always think of it as the restaurant in the city with the most awkward name. It just doesn’t quite roll easily off of the tongue, although I didn’t and don’t hold that against them and their food. I’ll let it speak for itself.
I love to see restaurants of this caliber willing to participate in restaurant week. And to do it so well. The servers did not seem annoyed, even though I’m guessing their tips on a $35 prix fixe meal cannot come close to the likes of a tip on their regular $78 prix fixe or $105 Chef’s Tasting menu. Everything about my experience here was nothing but top-notch. When I arrived, I sat at the bar waiting for my friends. The bartenders were attentive, checking in to see if I wanted anything (I was really just waiting), but weren’t pushy either. They’ve got it down to a science. They have a grand piano situated in front of the main window, and there was a pianist who started playing classical music. I was impressed before I ever took a bite, and that takes a lot.
Of course whereas most others come here for a romantic celebration, I chose to come here for Restaurant Week with a couple of my good girlfriends. We didn’t know if they would have any affordable bottles of wine, but shed our stereotype quickly as I saw they had some between $35-$40. I like when such nice restaurant still offers something like that. Very nice. We went with a shiraz from Washington State, and it didn’t dissappoint.
To start I had the duck terrine,which was served with pear chutney and brioche toast. I thought the duck was more interesting than the bean soup or beet & tangerine salad out of the appetizers. I’ll admit, I didn’t quite know what the heck terrine was? And maybe that’s a good thing since it might have kept me from being so adventurous. I read online it can include duck liver in the mix (not a pâté fan). I’d say it was probable here, though the regular duck meat was prominent enough for me to not feel like I’d accidentally ordered pâté.
For the entrée, I skipped the ricotta cheese ravioli and the wild red snapper and instead went with the grilled bavette steak. It came served with fingerling sweet potatoes and pearl onions. If all restaurants served steak in such a reasonable sized portion, I think I would eat it more often. The steak was thinly sliced, simply seasoned, and cooked to just the right temperature. I hate it when you ask for medium and it comes back super chewy. Just right.
For dessert, we decided to make our own dessert buffet of sorts, so we got one of each – Citrus Crème Brulee, Rainbow Carrot Cake, and the Milk Chocolate Fondant Cake. All of them were excellent. The crème brulee was extremely light and the citrus flavor was very subtle. The fondant cake was similar to the chocolate molten lava cakes of other restaurants (better, but that approach), but it was the accompanying praline ice cream and corn flake macaroon that made it stand out. And the carrot cake landed in front of my hands and was actually my favorite of the three. It was a lighter take on carrot cake, with cream cheese that just melted on your tongue. As opposed to the portion size on the steak, I found myself wanting more. But then again, when hasn’t that been the case on sweets?
I would love to come back here for their jazz brunch (I’m sure there’s no shock there). I really liked that they gave us a card for $30 off of a regular priced dinner there for 2. I thought that was a great gesture to make as I’m sure they see a large population of diners who may have never come through their front doors had it not been for restaurant week. I’ll be sure to put this to use. Highly recommend, and yes, I’ll echo it is a great spot for a special occasion of any sorts.
One if by Land, Two if by Sea – 17 Barrow Street (at ) – 212.255.8649