Sunday, August 24, 2008


455 Hudson St. near Barrow St.
Menu from NY Magazine

It was a clear day, breezy, low 70s. Perfect summer evening for dining out. We find ourselves in the west village, where you'll find a restaurant with outdoor dining every two steps you take. After walking up to various restaurants to check out menus and consulting our good friend googlemaps (addictive for foodies), we were still very undecided about where to go. I'm still very skeptical about Japanese food (excluding sushi) outside Turtle Bay and St.Marks so passed on En Japanese Brasserie. Then we passed by Out of the Kitchen and Alexandra. Both menus looked simple and price range weren't too far off. Hungry and a bit tired, it was decision time. I opted for Alexandra because it had cuter decor (true story). and the seating was out of direct sunlight and the restaurant was not at a major intersection, which meant it was quieter. So quiet I had forgotten we were downtown.

I have never been to Europe but I have seen enough movies to have a romanticized image of outdoor dining. Alexandra had it all. There were flowers. The drink menu (on a blackboard I believe?) was placed in a basket on a bike leaning against the tree. The outdoor tables held candle holders that produced a lantern like glow (the real candle inside was shielded by an opaque cover against the summer breeze).

After we ordered two chimays, we were given a french bread basket (real basket lined with napkin of course) and a container with herb butter balls. I mention herb butterballs as a plus because it reminded me of my Ottawa trip earlier this year where we had great French food (all with fantastic bread and various herb/spice butterballs). You don't get any of that small rectangle butter packages in Canada, I guess. I've never had chimay before but I've heard so much about them that I had to try one. Probably my new favorite beer (although expensive...sigh). For all you draft beer enthusiasts, there are none on draft. Obviously it's more of wine place but chimays work too. When I went to Sam Adams Brewery tour, they had taught us to taste beer with the same steps as tasting wine. Be sure to swirl your glass of good beer and take a whiff (chimays smell great) before drinking. Cheers!

To start, we ordered a Market Greens salad with apples, hazelnuts, lemon and olive oil. At dinner I didn't remember what the salad dressing was, but tasted extra virgin olive oil right away, with a hint of lemon juice. After researching the menu when I wrote this entry, I will confirm that it's very lightly dressed. Granny smith apples are crispy and tart, hazelnuts roasted and browned. Mostly romaine lettuce with a bit of spinach perhaps. J and I discussed salads and I'm of the opinion that really heavy dressing would only overpower good salad ingredients.

I fear my entry is turning into a travel narrative. Let's keep it simple for the rest.
For main course I had a P.J. Hambrger with Cheddar. Pretty tasty overall, no complaints. The regular burger acessories are fine too: tomato (possibly farmer's market? it was really juicy and sweet), romaine lettuce, red onion (my fav), and pickle (slightly vinegary). J had a burger with a side order of French Fries. The fries were presented in a little tin bucket (cute!) with herbed mayo (European style). The mayo was interesting at first but then became too much. I eventually caved and grabbed the ketchup bottle.

I want to try their brunch next time. Also making a mental note to visit small restaurants in the village more. A little sad that outdoor dining season is coming to a close. I recommend Alexandra if you're looking for a quiet dinner downtown. We dined a bit before regular New Yorkers so that may explain the quiet atomosphere. When we left, all the tables were taken.

In the neighborood
Alexandra and nearly village eats are just a short walk to the Hudson River Park piers. If you dined early you can probably catch the evening breeze and the beautiful waters by the pier. The skyline is gorgeous as well.

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