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Calliope: A New Gem in East Village

August 9, 2012

Summers in New York can be all sorts of brutal that I probably do not need to reiterate for all my fellow New Yorkers.  However, as if to make up for all we have to put up with, restaurants become just a little less crowded on the weekends.  Outside of the hottest of the newcomers such as Mission Chinese and Pok Pok, there have been some great openings that have gone completely under the radar even despite great reviews.  Calliope in the East Village on the corner of 4th street and 2nd avenue is one such that has opened quietly this summer.

We walked into Calliope at 6.30pm on a Saturday and easily snagged a table by the window.  A New York take on European/French fare, Calliope is spacious and bright with two sides of large windows and one side of the restaurant completely covered by mirrors.  A rustic communal table is the center piece of the restaurant with a small bar towards the back.

Meals at Calliope started with a bread basket but this was no ordinary bread basket.  Instead of the typical bread and butter, Calliope offered crunchy refreshing radishes along with warm just off the grill baguettes with anchovy spread.  We scarfed down these within seconds, licking our fingers of the salty goodness.

 

We decided to share all the dishes among the four of us, starting with a sampling of appetizers and small bites.  The traditional eggs mayonnaise with celery salt seemed so ordinary but this surprised all of us with its flavors.  Three little soft boiled eggs with golden yellow yolks stood like soldiers on the plate, topped with a creamy homemade mayonnaise.  Despite the name, the spicy mustardy mayonnaise was nothing like the jarred stuff we get from the stores.  Three light perfect bites to start the meal.

 

The tete du porc with parsley and pickles was also another surprise!  Instead of a terrine slice, the pork arrived thinly sliced on a plate.  I used my fork to carefully lift a paper thin slice directly into my mouth skipping the bread, making sure not to miss any of the salty briny pickles.

 

The lobster and leek vinaigrette was a lovely dish to look at with its sweet leeks and tender lobster.  This was an incredibly delicate dish but we were left wanting a few more morsels of lobster for the price.

 

 

The last of the appetizers was aProvencal tomato tart with savory and olives.  Nothing but intense summer flavor on top of a flaky crust.

Happy with our appetizers, we were ready to move onto the main courses.  The first was hot and sour braised lamb neck with mascarpone agnolotti.  Better for a warmer night, we still ate up every last bit of the tender fatty lamb to the fluffy creamy agnolotti.

 

The rabbit pappardelle with fava beans was the group favorite.  Wide ribbons of pappardelle made in fresh in house every morning was tossed with savory rabbit and a light white wine based thyme sauce.  The fava beans were not only a beautiful addition to the dish color-wise but also a great touch of freshness.

 

The last main course we shared was the halibut in saffron mussel broth with leeks and romesco toast.  This was sadly the one miss of the night.  Halibut is a tough fish to cook and even though the broth was delightful, it couldn’t salvage the fish from its sad dry fate.

Just to make sure we weren’t left hungry, a side of fingerlings with raclette helped round out the meal.  I really didn’t know what to expect but it certainly wasn’t this generously portioned cast iron pan of potatoes and melted cheese.  The fingerlings were mashed up and topped with a gooey layer of salty raclette and they were fantastic with the leftover sauces from the lamb.

 

And finally, a little plate of buttermilk panna cotta to celerbrate!

This was such a delicious meal that I couldn’t help but mention it to every person at work, even before I had the chance to write up this entry.  That is how much I enjoyed the food at Calliope.  And I really hope that the rest of New York wakes up to realize what a little gem the restaurant is.  Or perhaps, for my sake of not ever having to wait for a table, let’s keep this a secret for as long as possible, just between us.

Calliope | 84 East Fourth Street, New York, NY 10003 | http://www.calliopenyc.com

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