New York, NY 10014
Resto was a place called RedFarm which I read and heard about a ton. It's a Chinese Dim Sum inspired restaurant with a reputation for creativity and elevated Chinese Food. It's from the same people as Chinatown Brasserie so while I had high hopes, I also had some reservations about it being all about the hype and style rather than the food. The place doesn't take reservations so we got there late enough (~10 PM) so that there may be tables available. There wasn't AND the first thing they asked was if we called ahead? Whaaaat? But, I thought no reservations. But, you can call ahead? I'm confused. Anyway, we left our number and they told us it would be another hour. We were deep into a few drinks at that moment so waiting an hour while finding another place to have a drink seemed like a sensible option. What follows is why I think NYC is so unique and why I love it so much.
We took the first left on Charles going north from RedFarm since we thought a nice little wine bar called the Other Room was down that street which it wasn't and as we got to the end of Charles we spotted some sort of open air bar that seemed to take up the whole bottom floor of a building. It looked like a good place to try out a drink and was close enough to RedFarm if we needed to hurry back. As we got closer, it also looked like we were about to enter a big bundle of awesome.
Casa La Femme! Why it's called that, I don't know but what I do know is that it's an Egyptian bar/restaurant with decor to match. The doorman, however, did not match. I pegged him be a long lost extra from the Smooth Criminal video complete with a fedora and vest. It's not that he wasn't dressed well, it's just that he wasn't dressed to be part of the Middle East. The bar was populated with tables with high backed chairs with velvet padding. The backs of the chairs were so high that if you clustered them together around a table, you'd practically have a full enclosed, private space. Additionally, there was netting high above some tables that could come down and provide you with more privacy. The whole front of the bar opened up to the street so a nice breeze could come in. We suspected there may be a harem in the back but were too afraid to explore it.
I don't think we would ever choose to go to Casa La Femme intentionally since it may just be a little too ostentatious for us but it was a great find in a pinch. Thankfully, though, RedFarm sent a text telling us our table was ready in a little under an hour. When we got there, we got sat a long communal table surrounded by other diners who immediately started giving us recommendations. The one thing I noticed was that the party at the end of the table was snapping shots of the food but using a flash. I know that I take a good amount of shots but I'm completely against using a flash because it distracts from the dining experience. I may take shitty pictures sometimes but I'm fine with that trade-off if it ensures no one is disturbed. Oh and that's my easy way to explain why the pictures from RedFarm aren't the best.
We continued with their Soft Shell Crab appetizer with Meyer-Lemon Yuzu Sauce. Basically a crispy friend soft shell crab with a sweet citrus sauce. I found the batter to be a little to crispy and thick for me (which continued with some of the other dishes we ordered) but crab was cooked perfectly on the inside and the sauce was tangy with a bit of heat. I particularly enjoyed the fried eggplant pieces that came with the dish since the pieces were cut a bit thicker than what you usually find for fried eggplant so that you really the sweet earthy flavor of the eggplant rather than just the batter.
For the meal, we did tried some of their specialty drinks. I ordered their Yuzu Caipirinha and my friend got Le Club Hot. Yeah, there's a drink called Le Club Hot. The Caipirinha was made with Yuzu instead of lime and could have been a touch sweeter but overall not too much of a variation from a regular Caipirinha. The Le Club Hot, and I'm laughing while typing it, was indeed hot which had tequila, lime juice, jalapeno, agave nectar, and mint. I don't know if I tasted anything beyond the tequila and jalapeno but I do know that I needed to drink some water after drinking Le Club Hot. They may have added a bit too much heat. And by may, I mean, it they must have put a full jalapeno in there.
For dessert we ordered their Key Lime Pie and Ginger Panna Cotta. The Key Lime Pie was well made and the graham cracker crust was flaky and flavorful. The sorbet they served along with it was a fresh and sparkling ball of flavor and I wish I could remember what it was exactly so I could order it again. The ginger panna cotta was a great end to the meal with the smooth creaminess of the panna cotta properly balanced off with the occasional bite from the ginger. It appropriately cleared our palate of the meal and signaled a fitting end to a fulfilling meal.