What happens when a person who doesn’t like lounges and bars doesn’t do the due diligence? One ends up accepting an invite to a tasting at Tribeca, because everyone says the food there is great. And as I would discover in the first course alone, everyone was right.
My baby sister was in town until a week ago, and it just so happened that the very first tasting I asked her to accompany me to was for the new paleo menu at Tribeca. Interestingly enough though, once we got there, the manager suggested on picking what we should try, and each course had one paleo item and one non-paleo item. I gathered that we were made to try some of the best sellers, but hey- I’m not complaining.
Now my sister is an odd one. She hates hipsters and hipster cafes, but loves everything New York. I know, they’re not synonymous, but isn’t that where hipsters were born? Tribeca is an extremely quirky – bordering on weird- looking place, with mismatched furniture, some extremely captivating statement pieces (for instance the decorative bathtub in the middle of the restaurant that I couldn’t peel my eyes off of), retro light bulbs, and an early 90s movie being projected on one of the smaller walls. There were tables made of shipping container planks and chairs and stools of all sorts and breeds. Our particular spaceship-looking chair was mighty uncomfortable. We arrived before most of the diners/drinkers that night so I got to take in the decor in great detail. This was not my kind of scene et all.
Service was fantastic from the moment we stepped in though. Before they even knew I was there for a tasting, the hostess and manager welcomed me warmly and weren’t at all thrown off by my hijab and abaya, nor did they assume I’m in the wrong place (because I certainly did reconsider my better judgement before proceeding inside).
As I mentioned earlier, we didn’t choose what to order, so we sat ourselves down in preparation to be surprised, boy oh boy, were we ever. We started off with an appetizer that should have come with a light shining on it from up above, because it tasted like a God send. The Baked Feta, comprised of zaatar and my favorite cheese, except better- and that is something I didn’t think was even possible. To top it off, it came paired with watermelon, hence making my favorite combo of ingredients an even larger object of my dreams. Words cannot explain how friggin phenomenal this little plate of cheesy bliss was. Imagine your average feta, now imagine it baked, reduced, firmer, less crumbly, and saltier. Almost like Halloumi and Feta had a passionate love affair that resulted in a beautiful child. The only negative was that there wasn’t enough watermelon- this means increase the watermelon serving, guys. Never, ever, reduce the serving of that cheese. Ever.
The Beetroot Quinoa Salad– was dwarfed in comparison to the baked feta but it was a decent salad. As decent as you can expect a quinoa salad to be, really. I know, I know, I’m big on Chia and every breakfast item my sister likes to refer to as “hipster”, but Quinoa just didn’t manage to grow on me. Also, the beetroot really could have been cut into smaller cubes as they were far too big to be “bitesize” for the lady I was pretending to be. Overall it lacked oomph and was the weakest link in the entire meal.
While we waited for our mains, I kept thinking how I should have expressed my interest in trying the Truffle Risotto as I was really in the mood for some, but lo and behold, the Truffle Risotto was one of the mains that was selected by the manager to be brought us! YAY! I love surprises. This was an extremely rich, creamy, and satisfying plate of truffle risotto. We just couldn’t get enough of it. I couldn’t help but miss M as I dug into this plate of risotto, as he anything truffle is his kryptonite. The onions on top were more crispy than caramelized, which is fine by me as I’m a crispy over caramelized person any day, but the description on the menu, which promised “caramelized”, might be a let down to those who prefer the latter.
The paleo option for the mains was the Free Range Grilled Chicken. Now this was a grilled chicken breast done right, done justice. It comforts me to know that the end of a chicken’s life resulted in a delicious meal. I loved how there was a line of cajun spice on the edge of the plate, for those who might want some. We also LOVED the fig and rocket salad that came with it but it could have used better dressing than the creamy chili mayo- some vinaigrette for a hit of acidity would have done better. The chicken was ever so mildly seasoned but grilled to utter perfection and I truly savored every bite. It was tender and juicy and if this what paleo is all about then I’m sold!
We were stuffed by this point and decided we could only share one dessert at best. I know, I know, we could have eaten less and tried more, but I really hate to waste food and really couldn’t have half eaten dessert packed up for a cleaner or security guard. So, on the manager’s suggestion, we tried their best selling deconstructed cheesecake. Creatively served, the cheesecake (as the name suggests) was deconstructed and brought in a pyramid of three separate containers. One bore the crumbly “crust”, one the creamy cheesecake “filling”, and one a passionfruit puree for the “topping”. The puree was on point. The vanilla bean cheesecake was also excellent. It was rich but not heavy, and that’s no easy feat. The crust part was a fail. I always prefer a Digestive biscuit crust to a graham cracker one, as I find the latter to be too sweet and that’s exactly what this was: too sweet.
Last but not the least, my favorite part: the green tea. I have to have a cup of green tea after just about everything, and while I’m not picky, a good cup does excite me a lot. By the time we left, the place was jam packed to the point that a lot of people were simply standing, waiting for us to be done with our meal so they could have our table, which was awkward.
The overall experience was lacking, because the ambiance and surroundings just didn’t work for me. The music was too loud inside, and there was second hand smoke outside. The food though was easily some of the best I’ve had anywhere. It’s highly unlikely I’ll go back, as I try to steer clear or bars and lounges, but if I can get the food through Deliveroo, I’ll be ordering 3 of the items mentioned above by tomorrow.