If Only You Could Eat DÃ©cor
It’s sleek, hip, and stunning, but does RK’s food live up to its good looks?
RK, a new venture from the husband-and-wife team behind the highly lauded Rebeccas in Greenwich, is—above everything else—visually stunning. The drama begins quietly enough with a softly modernistic exterior. But does every newcomer gasp when first entering the bar area, which is awash in blue light emanating from behind bottles atop glass shelves? It is the lighting of a mysterious dusk, and it sheaths the cool glass dining areas with a mood of sexy conspiracy.
Yet RK is not a hushed environment of illicit meetings: gales of laughter and lively conversation contribute to a festive ambience—to the feeling you’ve just walked into a very cool party that somehow never gets too noisy.
Should your dining companion or food not offer enough stimulation, entertainment abounds. By all means watch the cooking show—our new theater—presented well in view of all from the glass-encased kitchen. Or read the wall: a light show of overheard statements offers pithy commentary on social absurdities and niceties. (There are more than 160 of these phrases shown in a continuous loop; they change every three minutes.)
Am I making too much of the physical place and not enough of the food? If it seems so, please note that it is wholly justified. As dazzling as the place is—as much as you want to be in it—it is a setting light years ahead of the food.
The wine list tries to keep up with the cutting-edge design. The selection is expensive and esoteric: it is so biased to barely discovered “artesian” vineyards that diners may feel the need to order any bottle that looks vaguely familiar.
The food is described as a contemporary interpretation of American brasserie fare. Already there is a disconnect to the design. And unfortunately, much of the fare landed on our table with a thud. Fluke carpaccio may have been the worst of it: thick slices of fish were smeared with a layer of slightly bitter wasabi dressing that completely obscured the flavor of the fluke. The unappealing fish was well over a quarter-inch thick; it was chewy, mealy, and bulbous on the palate.
A far better starter from the sea was the crabmeat salad: clean, sweet crab with just a whisper of mayonnaise tasted pure and fresh. Frog’s legs, a dish that has mostly disappeared from dining tables in the last decade, was served well-crisped and well-seasoned, but it was accompanied by an inedible bitter watercress coulis.
Fortunately, main courses proved more pleasant. Braised rabbit was served in a rich mustard tarragon sauce napped with cream. Grilled porterhouse veal—a chop cut from the rack—was served pink and was tender and juicy, though accompanied by a disappointingly bland potato gratin. Everything on the plate with the rotisserie chicken, however, was delightful. The skin of the chicken was crisp and savory; the meat moist and flavorful. Mushroom ragout and garlic mashed potatoes rounded out this ode to a classic comfort-food meal.
While presentation throughout the meal was slipshod, our banana split was completely lacking in visual charm. Though the flavors of ice cream didn’t match what we’d been told, and the server (who seemed rather clueless most of the night) had no idea what flavors we’d actually received, we still enjoyed this classic. Even better—indeed, one of the best we’ve had in the region—was the apple pie: thick slices of apple cooked down just soft enough with a judicious pinch of cinnamon served atop a flaky crust and accompanied by vanilla bean ice cream. And chocolate lovers won’t want to miss the outrageously rich, creamy chocolate truffle slice, whose intensity is offset perfectly with vanilla pot de crÃ¨me.
RK…AN AMERICAN BRASSERIE
22 Elm Pl., Rye
Lunch, Tue. to Sat. 11 am-2:30 pm
Dinner, Sun. to Thurs. 5:30-9:30 pm, Fri. and Sat. 5:30-10:30 pm