“Two,” she says, certain, looking behind her at his weary eyes.
A blur of blue and white winding ahead of them leads them to a table. They want to take it all in, but they arrive at their table in an instant, covering much of the restaurant’s floor. It’s grey, white and wood, a rustic kind of glam imbues the details— grey plush tall booths hugging granite tabletops, long wooden harvest tables, typical white subway tile, heavy curtains draped with deep folds, a wall unit warm with trinkets, and glittery candelabras emanating a brighter light than expected. It’s eclectic and synchronized, homey and yet, trendy.
The menu is a quick read with four wide columns, the words tickling their taste-buds and strumming their appetite. She wants everything; he is indifferent, rubbing the unexpected workday from his eyes. She orders with her usual authority. Slight hesitation. She orders more. She’s taking him out, and she wants everything.
The sky darkens outside and the light becomes warmer, edges soften, even his lips give way to a smile. What was once cold and sharp is now subdued as night sets in. A rosy moment passes too quickly and interiors reflect in the windows against the blackening backdrop. Like in the sky, sweeps of color whisper across the plates at The Kitchen at Grove Station.
Towering and jade, the watercress salad burns, bitter, relief only in salty-sweet bacon wrapped peach slices and thick ribbons of raw zucchini. It’s crisp and raw, incongruent and hard to eat, foliage directly to the mouth. Watercress overwhelms, staining the juicy peach and pungent cheese.
Arranged like flowers opening in sunlight, the fluke crudo is mild, studded with lively pomegranate seeds and floral mandarin oranges. The dish embellished with curls of celery is light, like eating air from the sea. Slick textures create stark contrast with the crunch of the gemlike seeds, providing bravado to muted flavors.
He pours the temperate soup in the shallow bowl lined with thinly sliced shrimp curled up on a thick stripe of parmesan frico. The salt of the cheese clashes with the sweetness of the fresh kernels of the summer corn and briny shrimp. However, it brings out the salty sourness of the thick dirty golden soup. Complexity and layers are misaligned and misguided but visually stunning.
An elaborate crescent rests on a perfect round, a conglomeration of textures and colors dimmed by a thick dark sauce spiked with red pepper flakes. The delicate pasta gushes with soft potato filling contrasting with the crisp sparkle of summer corn and spicy radish and green-tasting cilantro. Salty bacon moments create a familiarity feeling mixing with the soft starch.
Slippery, doughy dumplings filled to brimming with raucous seafood blends with the succulent and sensuous coconut broth. It coats their tongues, heavy, rich and sweet, overbearing, but laced with the bitterness of a few watercress stems. Popping orange-red tobiko and translucent radishes float at the broth’s surface.
Their eyes lower, content but wanting more, and there is. A beautiful slab of duck is perched on dark oaty quinoa and earthy charred spinach. Its skin and fat gleam in the light, begging to be both devoured and savored. The pink of the meat mimics the dark tone of the refreshingly sweet and tart beet and apple puree. Each element comes together seamlessly, giving part of itself to fill the needs of its counterparts, a balance of decadence.
It’s almost over, they think. The savory has been deconstructed, reconstructed and devoured; the smiles have deepened and the laughs have resonated; and things have quieted. But there is always dessert to reignite the flame of satiation.
And it is beautiful, like summer delicately transplanted into a shallow bowl. Dessert is a collection of warm weather memories blended with past and present through the expression of fresh fruit hardly touched but amplified. Buttery sweet crumble and melting ice cream sink into the fruit of the re-imagined cobbler, evoking home and happiness.
They leave holding hands, not sure what happened, if dinner even happened, but smiling with a certain secret satisfaction. She took him out, and she wants everything.