In the midst of holiday madness and blizzard advisories, I completely forgot to post about this. My apologies. A lot of times I go to restaurants and one or two things will really impress me; I always say that I have a hard time finding a restaurant that is solid from start to finish, well I am pleased to say that Bell Book & Candle is one of the few I've been to recently that was great from the first course to the last.
For the foodies out there, you may know that Chef John Mooney has created Bell Book & Candle with this "Rooftop-to-Table" concept. We've heard of farm-to-table, but 'rooftop'? Located on the 6th floor of a building on West 10th, there is a garden that grows hydroponic fruits and vegetables for the restaurant. Hydroponic means that the produce is grown in water, so there is less risk of pesticides and it grows faster as well, making it ideal for this quaint spot to deliver fresh produce to it's hungry patrons every night.
So there's your background. Now how does it taste? Well, Alexis was my date on this particularly cold night, but fortunately we were greeted warmly (get it?) by the hostess and taken right to our table in a dim-lit, cozy banquette table. We started off with the Marinated Cypress Grove Goat Cheese, which is basically a log of herbed and marinated goat cheese in olive oil and garlic sitting in a small mason jar, served with grilled pita bread. Mmm – cheese soaked in olive oil and herbs? Can't really screw that up, but it was delicious. We also got this baked shrimp dish, called the Laughing Bird Shrimp. Still have no clue why it's called that, but it was awesome. It was like a gigantic baked clam, but instead of a clam, it's shrimp. Does that make sense? Picture a cast iron skillet filled with butter, shrimp, and garlic, topped with bread crumbs and fresh lemon. Drool. Very aromatic thanks to the butter, garlic and lemon, and tasty for the same reasons – like baked shrimp scampi. Yes, maybe that is a better comparison than "baked clam"…or "laughing bird"…
Sometimes, you just need a good steak. And that is what I got. Alexis got the Amish chicken. Apparently we felt like being semi-boring that night, but in hindsight, the dishes were anything but. My steak was cooked perfectly, and it was topped with onion marmalade and blue cheese. I seriously don't know what people did before the blue cheese-and-steak marriage was officiated. I imagine their tastebuds were a little depressed and neglected. Unless I'm at a steakhouse where you're supposed to enjoy the taste of the meat itself, I will generally ask for some blue cheese on the side because I think it's THAT good of a combination. Needless to say, I thought it was perfect. The roast chicken was solid too – very juicy with a nice crisp skin. Wow. That sounded awfully Hannibal-like.
Once again, whenever I eat out with Alexis, we fight the dessert battle of Cream vs. Chocolate. It's been on ongoing battle with us for years now. One of us usually gives in, and in this case, it was me. Sigh. So we had the panna cotta. Not just any panna cotta though, POPCORN panna cotta. I know you're thinking, wtf? That's the same thing I thought when I had popcorn gelato and you know what? It's a little sweet, a little salty, and kind of tastes like Corn Pops cereal. NUMS. This panna cotta was smooth, creamy and surrounded by little pellets of caramel popcorn. I wanted a whole bowl of that popcorn. I would definitely recommend BB&C to my friends for a quiet dinner or date. Service also gets a two thumbs up, as everyone was friendly, attentive and helpful with choosing menu items.
Bell Book & Candle, you may confuse me with your words, but you won me over with your ambiance and deliciousness.