PRUNE: the wonder...

I'm going to try to be moderate in my "gushing" but you gotta know the background story I have leading up to my first visit to this place.

I'm a big fan of Chef Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin AND Anthony Bourdain (mostly for his writing, perspective on food, world travels, and utter New York-iness).  So there I was, tired after a long day of child-rearing when I plopped on our couch to catch a rerun of Bourdain's show No Reservations. This particular episode was New York City!! I chalked that up to Divine Providence and got comfy to see his "behind the touristy scenes" insight of the city I love so dearly.

One segment he, Ripert, and Scott Bryan (another 3 star chef - but I don't know much about him/his food) went to this place downtown called "Prune". True to the nature of the show, you get Tony's raw narrative of what a place is really like and this restaurant caught me. He said it was a place that chefs could go to after their shifts for REALLY good and unpretentious food. It's run by the fabulous Gabrielle Hamilton (whose nickname was "Prune" when she was little girl). She was committed to not getting lost in the glamor that is the NYC food scene, but cooking simple (read: BRILLIANT) dishes that she, herself, loved. I was hopeless.  I NEEDED to eat there. I didn't know when that would possibly happen.

::fast forward to quite a few months later::
For my birthday a dear WONDERFUL incredible friend of mine named Cathy told me she was taking me out for dinner but didn't tell me where we were going.  Imagine my reaction when we walked on 1st and 1st and she turned me towards a very simple store front and said "Ta Da!! Surprise!" 

I saw it.  PRUNE!!! I could NOT believe she even remembered my whining about needing to eat least 4-5 months earlier?!

I was giddy.

We sat at our little table in the small dining space. Minimally decorated, you could tell the details were deliberate. Antique-looking mirrors, metalic painted light bulbs coming out of the walls and about 3 staff members serving the whole dining area. OPEN kitchen! yes - you could peek right over the "breakfast bar" looking thing and watch them make your meal if you wanted to. Not that there'd be much space to do that, though.

We slobbered over the menu and decided to pick whatever we liked and share every thing.
Here are the very poor pictures from my sad little camera phone. But hey, it's something. :-)

See those innocent looking Garbanzo beans to the left? Oh, don't be fooled. They're bad. Very very bad.

I still dream about these roasted marrow bones with big crystals of sea salt and sharp parsley/shallot salad. (and they really CAN'T be good for you.) Cathy got the sweet breads in lemon, caper and bacon sauce. Well, we both ate both. yum

This was a whole baked fish stuff with lemons, fennel and garlic. I don't even remember what kind of fish it was. Let's call it "Magic Fish". In the middle is a white bean and wildmushroom creamy goodness.  Cathy got the seared duck breast on micro-greens.

The wonder that was dessert. This is ricotta ice cream (SOOO rich and creamy) with salted caramel croutons and freshly made caramel. (like the the real-deal, runny caramel, not the thick processed gooey stuff. Which, for the record, I don't scorn when served in my home - but it would have RUINED this work of art.)

Now, I hear people gush about this place for its brunches. But that makes me REALLY skeptical. It's New York City - the most amazing Brunch Capital of the World.  I think where Prune shines is it's "normal" food. The food we ordered.

Executed brilliantly, muted plating, ridiculous simplicity and REALLY great taste.  And 5 extra points from me for being a place that I can walk into in a t-shirt and jeans and still eat sweet breads made by a master. (and it won't break the bank either!!)

If you are in NYC. Go there.


...what are you waiting for?  :-)