Last week, I took Jess to Apiary over in the East Village for her birthday. Chef Scott Bryan runs the kitchen at Apiary. Before coming here, Chef Bryan worked at Veritas before Chef Sam Hazen took over, for which he earned three stars from The New York Times. He has also worked in the kitchens of Gotham Bar & Grill, Bouley, Le Bernardin, and Lespinasse. His culinary aim at Apiary is "an inspired menu of seasonal dishes that use the best of local ingredients."
The interiors were designed and furnished by Ligne Roset, "one of the world's leaders in luxury contemporary furniture design." The modern aesthetic is illustrated with "a delicate balance of organic materials, boldly colored textiles, light fixtures, and clean lines." The "barrel-shaped chrome lights, featuring a laser-cut silhouette of ancestral chandelier, hover purposefully over banquette tables and cast an ambient glow: a subdued spotlight for Chef Bryan's thoughtful dishes." The adornments on the wall emulates a beehive (thus, the inspiration for the restaurant's name, as an apiary is a place where bees are kept -- a collection of beehives).
I started with the pan-roasted sweetbreads with sweet and sour cipollini onions. The sweetbreads were really soft and tender with lots of concentrated flavor. Only thing for me, however, was that there was too much sauce/juice which overpowered the overall enjoyment of this because of the concentration of salt. Definitely would have loved it more if it wasn't drowned in sauce.
Jess had the swiss chard and ricotta ravioli with sage, brown butter, and poppy. The pasta were shaped into perfect pillows filled with swiss chard and ricotta. The sauce was a nice overlay of delicate, buttery sauce. Execution-wise, I thought this was much better than the sweetbreads, as the balance between sauce and pasta was well done.
For my main course, I had the black linguine with squid, cherry tomatoes, and basil. The pasta was lovely, but again, it was swimming in sauce, which was too concentrated and salty to enjoy without downing lots of water to compensate for this unbalanced seasoning. The chunks of squid were also not cut crosswise (usually for easier eating), but instead cut longways into triangles. For once, there was way too much squid to match the amount of pasta served. It was quite overwhelming. If the kitchen let up on the sauce a little, and cut the squid into more bite sized portions, it may have been more appetizing and easier to eat and enjoy.
Jess had better luck with the Scottish salmon with melted julienne vegetables and ginger soy emulsion. The salmon was cooked to the ideal temperature, where the salmon was flaky yet silky in texture. Again, the sauce seemed a little overdone here, but I believe it was fine compared to the sweetbreads and the black linguine. Nevertheless, Jess was very happy with her choice of main course.
For dessert, we both shared the apple tarte tatin with crème fraîche ice cream, which the kitchen happily added a birthday candle for Jess! The tarte tatin was unbelievably flaky and buttery, just like a croissant, but I felt the ice cream was melting way too fast and that the dessert itself was overdoused in sauce once again. It was still enjoyable -- just kind of soggy.
Jess and me at Apiary.
Findings: Overall, I feel that Apiary has so much potential -- the choice of ingredients and combination of them within its dishes create a solid menu of offerings for its patrons. However, the execution was a little disappointing, as most of the dishes we had were drowned and overdoused in sauce. It was disheartening because I really would have enjoyed the dishes a lot more if the sauce was let up, just a little bit. Nevertheless, Jess and I had a great time catching up -- the wine list from what we had tasted was great, including the riesling, the sauvignon blanc, and the moscato d'asti. The service was welcoming and helpful, so our dining experience was still wonderful.
Price point: $12-15 for each appetizer, $22-24 for each main course, $8 for dessert.
--May 10, 2012
60 Third Avenue
New York, NY 10003