On Saturday night the cowboy and I met my political friends for dinner at Five Leaves in Greenpoint. This place I would describe as romantically urban, with its metal and glass fittings, softened most notably by pretty floral centrepieces. We are seated inside by an open window. Our waitress is immediately upon us. She is wearing a tiny, tight skirt and a possibly tinier and tighter shirt which manages to both show her tiny cleavage, a triangle cutout on her upper tummy and her midriff; we are bemused. As feminists we know we should be mildly uncomfortable with the misogyny at play. She however looks very comfortable; possibly liberated. It is after all a very warm evening.
There is something about tangerine roses:
We proceed to our prelude; Fried Oysters. Ordinarily I am not much into fried oysters as it can become a very stale affair. These were just wonderful. Each oyster was presented on the shell on a bed of pickled cucumbers. With a spoon we dabbled just a smidgen of the accompanying chile aioli on top and then devoured them as large bite sized crunchy on the outside, oystery on the inside perfectly spiced mouthfuls. Heaven.
Next up, I got my real starter; the crispy squash blossoms. They came flash fried and sparingly filled with succulent Burata, on a bed of zesty zucchini and lime purée. Basically it was about as heavy as you could possibly make a blossom, while still enjoying the lightness of said blossom. I was awed by all the impressions simultaneously occurring on my pallet. Memorable. Yum.
The next point of order; mains. I got the scallops and chopped kale. So actually two more starters that together were gonna serve as a main.
To start with the scallops; they came seared with beat-kaffir-lime pure (more lime, argh.), shiitake mushrooms, seabeans and just a small handful of fried buckwheat. My brother and I recently had a scallop conversation in which we agreed that scallops should only ever be served in groups of three, because ashearty yet delicate as they are individually after the third they just become too much. Gross is the word that springs to mind. Well I got four. And accurately the first three were delicious. The fourth; it was a struggle. The accompagnying pure , shrooms, beans and buckwheat was also good, but were proportionally overpowered by the shellfish at play. This dish was ok. But I probably wouldn't have it again.
The accompanying kale was so strange. It was just a massive plate of finely chopped kale beautifully dressed in an anchovy dressing, but sadly with a cheaply thin layer of Gouda shavings and I think 5 hazelnuts. I have a t-shirt that says eat more kale. I love kale. But this dish was disappointing. Even as a side it just didn't really work; as a standalone it would be a disaster.
Kale-saster (it actually looks pretty good...fault the camera!)
For desert, we had the bruleed pineapple, with mangosteen granita and black sesame streusel. I personally felt the description of this dish suffered from an overuse of complicated foodie words; whatever happened to foam, sorbet and crumble? That aside; the desert was ever so slightly too sour for my general taste. The pineapples weren't really brulleed in sugar, they were just fired up. The granita was most melted sorbet, only the streusel, which really was just a few crumbs, did have that glorious sesame taste (which, however, also is not exactly sweet). After our, what in principle was a bit of a fry up meal, the tuttifrutti desert was refreshing. But this one also won't go down in the history cookbooks.
So at the end of the night, which only intermittently had been interrupted by phonecalls regarding an ongoing campaign for office that my friend is working on,I have to say I wanted to give Five Leaves all my points. The food was delicious; fried yet almost unbelievably fresh at the same time; with some thoroughly innovative recipes working off beloved classics. It felt entirely contemporary and entirely good.
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