Lucky for us we hit Imperial No. 9 on its last weekend with Sam Talbot as chef! I read this week he resigned based on irreconcilable differences with the Mondrian regarding the nightclub atmosphere they would like to create. Good for him. He took some pretty major hits by the big food critics on his food since it opened, particularly Sam Sifton. Ironically, the NYTimes announced his replacement this week with a new restaurant critic. On to the next era. Anyway, since we were late to the game, this review may be irrelevant shortly. We may see a drastic change in the menu. For what its worth, we tried to avoid the night scene and had a lovely brunch at Imperial No. 9.
The Mondrian is like a little garden paradise hidden on Crosby Street. The entry is a canopy of ivy and there is a large outdoor space to the left, which I am sure is hopping during summer months. We were fortunate to be seated in the garden room, which is in essence a huge greenhouse. The indoor room is far less dramatic. The seating feels like an outdoor patio in the comfort of the indoors. There is plenty of greenery and there are gorgeous chandeliers as well as a central table PILED with glass sculptural pieces, vases and vessels. I imagine the effect is pretty amazing at night as well. It was a spectacular day so we were able to get a few good shots of the decor AND food. Also of note, we had a Kelly Ripa sighting.
The atmosphere here is for sure a big draw, but the food was quite enjoyable as well. Sam Talbot has been working out in Montauk since his stint on Top Chef, so the theme here is Seafood and we felt it best to stick to straightforward seafood. Fresh and simple. That’s his gig. But first, the all-important Bloody Mary…delicious, smooth, not horseradish-loaded, and of course, the olives stuffed with gherkins won me over.
Fish Tacos grilled seasonal catch, avocado, lime 21.00
Lobster Roll butter poached, celery salt, crunchy shallot 24.00
Banana Bread Pudding honeycomb semifreddo, nutella 10.00
The two notable items here were the lobster roll and the banana pudding, about which I have read many a rave. Agreed. WOW! The fish taco was no slouch and it was loaded with fresh veggies and fish. But Steve looked like he wanted more food. Thus the dessert and some coffee. Good call on trying it! The consistency of the banana bread was out of this world, but the combo with the honey custard and dollops on nutella make this dish first rate.
Now for the lobster roll. Those of you following know we did a ‘Lobster Roll Smackdown’ this summer, trying all of the known lobster shacks and otherwise known lobster roll establishments. My bad for not trying this one earlier! This is the traditional New England preparation. No mayo or fillers, just coated in brown butter, seasoned with celery salt and sprinkled with deep fried shallots. Pure deliciousness. It will be a shame if this disappears from the menu. And duly noted this roll was LESS EXPENSIVE than the $25 Ed’s or $28 BLT Fish Shack. Ed’s did pack in more lobster, but it is a less elegant mayo preparation. It depends on your mood – summer shack or elegant. For the price, I’ll take a little atmosphere with my lobster roll (if I can’t be in Maine)! Of course I could be in Maine and spend less than a weekend of dining out in NYC :). Next summer.
Well, I’d say go back, but who knows what the future will bring for the Mondrian. Keep reading Eater and follow the story!
9 Crosby Street – Soho