Park Ave: Summer is the Best Season?

It’s restaurant week here in NYC, which means trying to get reservations at all those restaurants you can’t afford to go to normally. As soon as the list of restaurants and menus come out online, there is always a frenzy of e-mails between my friends trying to decide where to go. This usually lasts for days, with each of us suggesting several places we want to try, and then having to narrow it down. This time around, however, we all agreed immediately and were able to snag a reservation at Park Ave Summer, the restaurant that changes every season. I’d been wanting to go here ever since it opened because I like the concept of cooking with whatever is in season. It can be a bit pricey normally so getting 3 courses for $35 is an excellent deal here.

Soft Shell Crab with side salad

Right off the bat I knew that I wanted the fried soft shell crab appetizer, even though it was a $5 supplement to the prix fixe meal. I don’t often get to have soft shell crabs but I absolutely love them. This did not disappoint. It was perfectly fried, crispy but not greasy and well seasoned. The side salad of avocado, strawberries, and passionfruit were a nice way to cut the richness of the crab. There was something in there that was a bit too salty for my tastes but honestly it was all pretty delicious. The other apps that were ordered were the gnocchi and the gazpacho. Both tasted glorious, though I preferred the gnocchi.

Carbonara with zucchini and mushrooms

I had a harder time deciding on my entrée, as there were several that really appealed to me. I ended up going with the summer carbonara for several reasons:

  1. I love pasta. Who doesn’t?
  2. I love carbonara. Cheesy, eggy, goodness, what could be better?
  3. It came with mushrooms and I am a mushroom fiend
  4. My friends ordered each of the other entrees so I figured I would round it out

It was a great decision. Normally I consider carbonara to be more of a winter dish because it can be so heavy but the vegetables definitely made this a summer pasta. There was also a hint of acidity, probably some lemon juice, that really lightened the dish up. It was by no means the best carbonara I’ve ever had, that award goes to Edi House in Firenze, but I thought it was really well done. The scallops were probably the next best dish, in my opinion. They were cooked perfectly and the chutney they came with really complemented them well. The salmon and baby back ribs were also tasty. The ribs were a little too sweet for me but the meat was so tender it just fell off the bone.

Peach Panna Cotta

For dessert I chose the peach panna cotta with basil foam and lemon cakes. I’ve been on a peach kick lately so that sounded really good. The basil foam was the best part, or the lemon cakes. The panna cotta was fine, nice texture, and a decent peach flavor but it wasn’t anything that blew my mind. My friend, Kim, ordered the banana parfait with chocolate crumbs and butterscotch…now that was the right choice. It was heavenly. Such a good dessert.

You never really know what you’re going to get during restaurant week. Some places rise to the occasion and produce stellar meals, like Park Ave. Summer, and others really disappoint. This was a meal that was well worth it and I certainly hope to make it back here for one of their other seasons. Who knows, maybe it’ll be there again during the winter restaurant week!

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