Monday, August 24, 2009

Café St. Bart’s, 50th St & Park Ave

Café St. Bart’s
109 E. 50th St

The first time I went to Café St. Bart’s, adjacent to St. Bartholomew’s Church, was almost four years ago. I felt so grown up, having lunch outside on Park Avenue with my father and one of his business colleagues for my first professional informational interview. The meeting went well, but years later what I remember most is that Café St. Bart’s served the most amazing steak au poivre, with perfect french fries.

This past weekend, Scott suggested Café St. Bart’s for lunch and I was so excited to go back a second time! I tried to find their phone number to see if we needed reservations (you don’t) or if there is a dress code (there isn’t), but it turns out “Café St. Bart’s” doesn’t technically exist anymore - it’s now “Inside Park at St. Bart’s”, with seating available on their outdoor terrace.

The menu looks amazing, full of sandwiches, pizettes, and main courses that make the most of seasonal ingredients. My second visit was good, but didn’t quite live up to the first. Scott and I shared an order of Black Lentil and Bacon Soup, which reminded me of being 7 years old and watching Robin Hood on a rainy day, eating Campbell’s soup - nice for a trip down memory lane, but disappointing from such a lauded restaurant. My Cuban sandwich was almost fantastic - capers and shaved carrots nestled between layers of roasted pork, ham, and Swiss cheese... notice anything missing? The Cuban sandwich had no pickle! Just a pickle spear on the side, the same as you’d get with a grilled cheese. I enjoyed my pork-on-pork sandwich, but a Cuban really needs the briny, sourness of a pickle to counteract the fatty sweetness of the pork and ham. Needless to say, I was disappointed.

Scott’s tempura-fried brook trout sandwich, though, looked beautiful and tasted fantastic. A brioche bun holds two, big trout fillets dipped in tempura batter and lightly fried, with arugula, caramelized onions, and chili mayonnaise. It came with a lovely heirloom tomato salad - Cherokee purples, red cherry, and yellow grape tomatoes are mixed with basil, radishes, and chives for a salad that smells like it came straight from the farm.

I’d still go back, but Café St. Bart’s Inside Park at St. Bart’s doesn’t hold that same place in my little-girl version of being a “grown up”.

1 comment:

  1. You sure do have an enjoyable time. Thank you for sharing. Cheers !