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Ladies’ Dinner at Prune

August 27, 2012

There are only a few summer weekends left in the season.  So few that I am starting to take them more seriously.  There is no sitting around home after work on Fridays.  A ladies’ night out with HH starting at Prune makes for a perfect summer Friday night.  After parting ways at work to shed our work attire, we met up in East Village.

With its doors swung open, Prune looked twice as big as it normally does on during brunch on a crowded Saturday.  Just to make sure that we would not have to wait long, HH called ahead to make a reservation and it paid off when we had a table waiting for us.

While we perused the menu, a glass of cava and Pimm’s Cup to sip on and a little bowl of fried chickpeas to nibble.  Crunchy and salty, these were so addicting that they were gone within minutes.  Prune’s dinner menu is made up of American dishes, unpretentious yet elegant.  Ideas and suggestions bounced back and forth between us.  Like minds think alike so it was easy to decide on the dishes for us to share that night, creating a tapas style dinner.

Radish with sweet butter and Sardines with Triscuits might seem a bit pedestrian on a menu but they translated so well onto our plates.  The sweet butter sprinkled with a few grains of kosher salt contrasted nicely with the crunchy and spicy radishes.  And who knew sardines and Triscuits paired together so well with a smear of spicy mustard?

The grilled head-on shrimp with anchovy butter was quite a sight.  Three large shrimps in their full glory, head and eyes and all were simply grilled and bathed in a buttery sauce.  This dish required us to get our hands dirty, nothing prim and proper about devouring these!  Thank goodness there was a bowl of lemon water waiting for us to clean our finger, but not before we had swept up as much of the lemony anchovy butter as we could with the sweet shrimp.

We were still working on the shrimp when a flurry of dishes appeared.  Our small table was all of a sudden so packed with plates that we had to work furiously to catch up.  To say that we were a little flustered was an understatement.  We bounced between the dishes to try to taste a little bit of each before they got cold, making it hard to enjoy the dishes at a pace we normally would have liked.

A bite of the roasted squid and charred scallion, delicious.  Tender braised pieces of artichoke heart and fennel, so simple yet elegant.  And the smokey eggplant sauce coated green and yellow beans, now those were addicting with a hint of spicy.  We both agreed that even though all three were well made, the beans with eggplant sauce were a must order.

We were ending our parade of small plates with a beautiful serrano ham, fresh figs and pistachios.  It was the first time either of us have seen a lime wedge served with serrano ham.  But who knew?  A squeeze of the citrus really brightened the flavors.

Just as we were picking up the last bits of the serrano ham, HH glanced over at the table next door and saw something that caught her eyes.  A small dish full of pimento cheese served with a few saltine crackers.  This was definitely an off the menu item and our server was nice enough to bring us a plate of our own as well.  The salty and creamy spread was perfect with the crackers, making a lovely low-brow cheese course.

We thought we could resist dessert.  We really did but our defenses were useless when there is mascarpone ice cream with salted caramel croutons.  Putting on the toasted brioche croutons covered with luscious salted caramel sauce was just genius.  This will definitely appear in my repertoire at home.

One more glass of wine at Calliope and the night passed just like that.  Amazing food and great company, nothing better to start another summer weekend.

Prune | 54 East 1st Street, New York, NY 10003 | http://www.prunerestaurant.com/

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