March 16, 2006

Washington Square

We made it into Washington Square near the tail end of Restaurant Week. Before we arrived, my wife and I decided we would look at both the regular menu and the Restaurant Week menu before ordering. As it turned out, we ordered from both. The Restaurant Week menu contained entrées from the regular menu. The only difference was that the portions were smaller on the Restaurant Week menu. Normally, this might be a drawback, but in this case choosing the smaller portion size gave us the opportunity also to explore a couple of the compelling side dishes on Washington Square’s regular menu.

We both started with the Caesar salad. Although the Restaurant Week version of this Washington Square staple was small, it was surprisingly filling. The cream cheese croutons are the highlight of this dish. They are tiny blocks of pure cream cheese that have been fried on the outside to form a sinfully crispy shell. These croutons would taste amazing on any salad, but they work especially well here paired with the rich Caesar dressing.

For the main course, I had the grilled salmon with artichokes, spinach, olive butter and saffron sauce. I expected more from this dish; I found it to be a bit too plain. Also, the artichokes distracted from the salmon and the sauce. My wife ordered the roasted organic chicken with cheesy polenta, wild mushrooms, asparagus and truffle jus. To be honest, this dish didn’t exactly leap off the menu to me, but it certainly leapt off the plate. The magic to this dish is the truffle jus. The effect is subtle, but its earthy goodness soaks through every bite of the polenta and highlights the organic, natural theme of this dish. The wild mushrooms add a fresh touch and even give you the illusion that the intense earthiness is coming from them. Roasted chicken is an excellent choice for this dish because it’s light and doesn’t compete with the other flavors.

For the extra sides, we ordered the garlic fries with aoli and the truffled mac and cheese. The garlic fries were deeply disappointing. They were too salty to appreciate any garlic flavor and otherwise were unimpressive. The aioli, sadly, appeared to be nothing more than mustard. The truffled mac and cheese, on the other hand, was amazing, intense and addictive. It is the ultimate gourmet comfort food. I never would have thought to combine truffle oil and cheese, and I don’t know what kind of alchemy they did to figure it out. But these flavors go so well together you’ll wonder how you ever ate mac and cheese without it. I’m not going to be able to eat mac and cheese ever again without missing the truffle oil. After tasting them, we took both sides home to save room for dessert.

For dessert, we had the cheesecake with green apple sorbet. This dish was made just for the Restaurant Week menu. The cheesecake, which was firm and rich, came in two miniature-sized slices. The green apple sorbet was refreshing and tasted surprisingly natural.

Washington Square
210 W. Washington Square
(215) 592-7787

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