I am an entertainer. But I only get paid to entertain about 20% of the time.
And in ridiculously overpriced New York City, that means I have to have a real job.
A day job. At a desk.
Luckily, I have a great day job that allows me to research restaurants I dream of going to insistently.
And my friends know that I am constantly reading up on the restaurant news in New York so I am usually the one that has to choose the place we meet for happy hour, dinner, brunch, or even a cup of coffee.
A lot of times, I meet people for imbibing around my work which is near the Gramercy and Flatiron areas of Manhattan so I pretty much have researched every restaurant within a 10 block radius of my corporate prison….I mean, ehem, workplace.
And of all of my nearby go to’s, Cask Bar and Kitchen is one of my absolute favorites.
The ambiance in this place is perfection.
Tables made of elegantly dark wood, giant booths, perfectly dim lighting, adorable little mason jars filled with frilly carnations, leather bound drink menus, an upstairs and downstairs bar, and friendly service.
Now. A rule I live by: always find restaurants that offer free bread when you are going out with people whom you know are going to be late. That way you can have a delicious nibble while you sip your wine and wonder where the hell your friends are.
The bread at Cask is just a standard multi-grain loaf but the olive oil with flecks of peppers and olives concoction that comes with it is a fine starter. But who am I kidding, I would eat a pile of Saltines if they were free.
There are so many wonderful things on the menu but where there is a small plate option, there you will find me. You see, I am a snacker. If I could eat little tiny meals all day, every day, for the rest of my life, that is how I would choose to live. Well. I CAN eat that way. But I also CAN get super fat. It is in my genes. And I want to fit into my jeans. So I only indulge in my fantasy eating when presented with the option.
The Small Plates are fantastic at Cask. Everything from mussels to macaroni.
For my first plate, I chose the Carmelized Brussel Sprouts with spicy chorizo and creamy manchego ($9). Manchego is one of my all time favorite cheeses. It is so delightfully tangy, it sounded like a perfect addition to the creamy, sweet brussel sprouts and the spicy salt of the chorizo. And it is an absolute bargain for $9! It is almost enough food to be considered a regular sized plate. But….I couldn’t stop with just one small plate…..
…..especially when I saw the Sweet Potato Gnocchi with smoked applewood bacon and parmesan cream ($10). And it was everything I had hoped for. The gnocchi was like biting into salty and sweet lumps of butter. The applewood bacon was not only a great textural contrast, but the salty power of the bacon deliciously cut into the gnocchi’s sweetness. The parmesan cream added another tangy dimension to the entire dish as well. Come to think of it, the technical complexity of flavors and textures were pretty similar in both of these dishes. And they both were just splendid.
So. Eat here. And you may see me, sitting, munching on free bread, repeatedly staring at my phone in anticipation.
Cask Bar and Kitchen
167 East 33rd Street, Manhattan
33rd Street between Lexington and 3rd Avenue