Last week they announced the San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants, and we happened to have made reservations at Cosme, which comes in at number 23. This is outstanding enough, but the chef Daniela Soto-Innes also has the distinction of being the World’s best Female Chef. We were very excited to say the least.
We decided to head in early and take advantage of the beautiful weather and start the day with brunch at Sadelle’s– another buzzy spot we had been meaning to try.
We drove in, parked up in the Flatiron District, right next to Cosme and then walked down to Sadelle’s.
This helped build up our appetite. We had reserved at 12:30 which was lucky, because when we arrived (this was a Tuesday) the restaurant was packed. The aesthetics and atmosphere were just perfect. It was like a stage set of the perfect NY Deli, elevated about 10 levels.
Every detail was perfect, from the table-settings, to the lighting, to the server’s outfits. The staff was highly professional, yet friendly and enthusiastic. Our expectations were very high.
Our table was up a step, with a great view of other diners, and out of the fray a bit.
The menu was impressive!
So many choices- and so pricey! The dishes coming out to other tables looked stupendous- so we ordered a little bit of everything.
First up was Matzo Ball Soup, garnished with a big mound of dill. The soup smelled and looked tempting, but the taste was rather bland and disappointing. My Matzo ball loving son left half of it. It wasn’t worth finishing.
I was feeling healthy and ordered the Freddy- avocado, chili rubbed shrimp, radishes, hearts of palm and fried shallots with a lemon vinaigrette. This salad, while quite striking to look at was really disappointing. The rub on the shrimp was sharp, the fried shallots tasted a bit bitter, the hearts of palm added even more salt, and the dressing was too acidic. Really did not hit the spot. The avocado was perfect though!
We all shared the Leo, which was scrambled eggs topped with smoked salmon, sour cream, and dill. Again- it looked great, but the taste was disappointing. Something just wasn’t working.
The classic Bagel & Salmon was beautifully presented on a three tiered tower. We ordered a poppy seed bagel and a salt and pepper bagel to go with. The salt and pepper bagel was an interesting twist, and superior to the poppy seed one. Neither were quite chewy enough. The presentation- spot on, the taste…alright.
Everything was left half finished, which actually never happens when we dine out. We figured maybe the Chocolate Babka could save the day. We ordered a slice to share, and the waiter returned to say that he was sorry, there was no more. What?! Impossible! Luckily they were able to locate one that had been set aside. Again, looked good, tasted average.
There is definitely a theme at Sadelle’s. Upon first glance everything looks perfect, but on closer inspection it is all really just quite ordinary. I am glad we went, because otherwise I would have continued imagining we were missing out on the absolute pinnacle of NY Deli. My sons concurred, they would much prefer to be eating Salmon Bagels and Matzo Ball Soup at Golds Deli in Westport CT, where they grew up enjoying old fashioned, authentic Deli.
From Sadelle’s we walked and walked and enjoyed all the fabulous shopping opportunities we could avail ourselves to. It wasn’t too crowded, so we had a great time. We definitely needed a boost of energy mid-afternoon, so we searched out Bar Pa Tea which I had been following on Instagram since they opened. We had a lot of Boba Tea in Asia when we were there, and we all love it. The space in Nolita is tiny but inviting.
I initially ordered the Fresh Grapefruit Yakult, but they were sold out, so I settled for the Brown Sugar Milk. They proudly state that they make their tapioca bubbles fresh every two hours, a good thing.
The bubble were certainly fresh, although maybe a tad chewy. The Brown Sugar Milk was quite sweet, even though I specified the lowest sweetness level. In keeping with our day so far, it was good, not outstanding. Their Instagram is more enticing than reality.
And so back to Shopping… we discovered some fun galleries along the way, including one with a large collection of Takashi Murakami’s, the Martin-Lawrence Gallery
We headed uptown in order to make our very early reservation. We arrived at 5:30, just when dinner service was starting. The exterior of the restaurant is quite understated, as is the interior.
Although it was early, there were a large number of people waiting, all of whom were excited to have scored a reservation at the 23rd best restaurant in the world. We were kept at bay by the hostesses, who were quite subdued as well, in keeping with the decor.
At the appropriate moment (5:35) we were led back to our table, passing a curious array of decorations along the wall (books and glasses, bottles of wine artfully displayed) as well as a very long and expansive bar.
The tables were set a nice distance from one another, so the noise level was manageable, though they were all shrouded a bit in darkness. The cement floors and minimal decor added to the bland vibe.
The menu was short, concise and simple. We relied on the very serious and soft spoken waiter to explain more. There definitely seemed to be a prerequisite for all the staff to be very calm, and not to show too much (or any) enthusiasm. The diners in the restaurant were all happy and enthusiastic to be there, but the staff definitely seemed to want to temper the vibe to match the setting. It was a bit disconcerting, to be honest.
We ordered some drinks to get us started, including a Scoville Sour, which consisted of hot pepper infused Tequila, lemon juice, agave and spiced cucumber. It was tasty.
The three of us ordered a wide array of dishes, to get a taste of the highly acclaimed elevated Mexican Cuisine. Along with the drinks came some homemade tortillas and a chili oil salsa. These were served warm, and again, the consensus was tasty.
The endive with beans, avocado and pine nuts came out along with the Razor Clam Tostada. Both dishes were visually striking, and the balance of flavors was delicate.
Here is a better view of the Razor Clams. It was a little challenging to split among the three of us.
The Fluke Tostada was next. The Fluke was silky and mild, the taste again very delicate.
The Crab Inflatida was a very delicate puff filled with crab and avocado. Again, a bit of a challenge to share, nicely executed, and very subtle. All of these dishes were presented with very little commentary or fanfare. No real presentation at all. It was slightly curious. To say service was low key was an understatement.
On to the larger dishes. The Mole negro was dark and complex, and was accompanied by a very bitter and tasty salad. The combination was a good one- the boldest dish so far.
We enjoyed an order of the Duck Carnitas served with onions, radishes and herbs. This was an entire half of a duck served hot in a skillet, with tortillas alongside. My boys devoured this pretty quickly. They declared it very good…not great.
The sliced radishes added a picturesque touch.
Everyone agreed the highlight of the dinner was the Beet Tetela with goat feta, hummus, and hazelnut butter. This small triangle packed a lot of flavor, which was satisfying on every level. The combination was perfect.
While the duck was heavy, and the rest of the meal was quite light, we had plenty of room for dessert. The signature dessert is the Husk Meringue and Corn Mousse. The first bite filled our mouths with the taste of fresh sweet corn. It was very delightful, but subsequent bites were not quite as flavorful
My personal favorite was the Acacia, with Mexican Chocolate. It was very rich and creamy and satisfying. In both cases we didn’t finish them, they weren’t that irresistible.
The one lighthearted bit of decoration was in the shared restroom, not sure exactly what to make of that.
I am glad we went to Cosme, but similar to our earlier trip to Sadelle’s, both experiences did not live up to their hype. Sadelle’s was certainly not an exceptional Deli, and Cosme was good, but absolutely not in the world’s top 30. The service and atmosphere was so cold and flat that it really detracted from the dining experience. The food was well executed and beautifully presented, but suffered from a lack of flavor. This of course is just our opinion, but we do have a pretty wide frame of reference in which to compare.
I would love feedback from others- maybe we are missing something?