Another Friday night, another fun random evening in New York City. As the work week came to an end, I started going through my massive list of restaurants and activities to do while in Manhattan, and tried to come up with a loose plan. First things first – we decided to make some reservations for dinner at Spice Market, a Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant in the Meatpacking District of Manhattan.
I’ve heard a variety of opinions on Spice Market, but the majority really had great things to say about this Southeast Asian restaurant. We walked in for dinner and were asked to wait in the bar area for about 10 minutes before our table would be ready for us. Instead of sticking around and grabbing a drink, we wandered through the lounge and down the stairs to check out more of the surroundings. Unfortunately I didn’t snap any pictures, but the space is elaborately decorated with Eastern collections originating from India, Burma, South India and Malaysia, plush embroidered curtains, and furniture from Thailand and China. The colours are deep and rich, with dark reds, purples and indigos throughout the large two levels.
Spice Market has been around since 2004, and is still a hot spot in the city, so there were a lot of tables filled with beautiful men and women and was fun for people watching, at the very least. Once we were seated, we ordered a couple of cocktails. The house specialty, which is known to be delicious even to those who aren’t particularly fond of tequila, was the Ginger Margarita. It was made with Sauza ‘Hornitos’ Reposado Tequila, Ginger, Lime, and Ginger Salt, and although it wasn’t my first drink of the evening, I ordered one for my second round after tasting my girlfriend’s.
I originally went with the Gin Spice – a combination of Hendrick’s Gin, Aperol, Grapefruit, Rhubarb, and Jalapeño. Although I love Hendrick’s and spice in anything that I consume, I found the cocktail to be a bit on the sweeter, more syrupy tasting side, and decided that one was enough for me.
While perusing the menu, our server brought us Papadum to get started, and we picked a few appies and mains to share for dinner to give us energy for all the dancing we were expecting to get up to later in the night.
My girlfriend ordered the Peekytoe Crab Dumplings, with Sugar Snap Peas and Aromatic Spices (which included a touch of molasses, as far as I could tell). She’d ordered some sort of dumplings at Spice Market on her last visit and really enjoyed them to the point that they put in a second order, but when they arrived it turned out these weren’t the same ones. I did find them a little bit on the overcooked side, but the flavours were still well-balanced.
Next up was the Thai Slaw Salad, a refreshing blend of Asian pear, crispy shallots, and mint. It’s definitely a variation on either a papaya or green mango salad, but it was still wonderfully flavourful and enjoyable.
In terms of the mains, my favourite dish of the evening was the Halibut Cha Ca La Vong, with Herb Salad and a delicious broth, served with rice noodles. The flavours were quite strong, and the chefs definitely weren’t afraid of making sure that we would be using all of our taste buds while eating.
Finally, the Red Curried Duck was a rich dish that didn’t have quite as much punch as the halibut. It was still very good, and a nice balance with the rest of the items that we ordered.
Although I have a definite sweet tooth and was staring at the dessert menu for quite awhile, we both decided not to order anything as we were too full at that point. Other favourites I’ve heard about are the Thai Chicken Wings and the Chicken Samosas, so it all points to the fact that I’ll have to just return before I leave NYC.
I also noticed that our server was excellent, and although the restaurant was completely swamped with reservations throughout the entire evening (we arrived at 8:30 and left by almost 11pm), she did a great job with ensuring we always had drinks, our food came in a regular cadence, and she didn’t rush us at all. Even when she asked if we’d like another cocktail once our first ones got a bit low, we asked if she could bring them in about 10 minutes, and she remembered and timed this very well.
This was a perfect way to start out our evening before heading across the street to the Gansevoort Hotel rooftop, followed by the Jane Hotel further West in the Village. Good thing we ate so much at dinner as we ended up dancing the night away as predicted, and managed to stay out until almost 6 am. The city that never sleeps, indeed!