Written by Hulda Lawrence
Only one month old is Natsumi at 226 West 50th Street, between Broadway and Eighth Avenue, 212 258-2988. This Japanese restaurant presents some interesting combinations of fish and seafood with fascinating Italian touches, such as olive oil, vinegars and wine. The owners Barbara Matsumura and Chef Haru Konagaya cooperate with a restaurant in Verona, Italy.
The décor is attractive and service is swift. We were greeted by Jewell who seated us. Wataru, our waiter, had many helpful suggestions for us as we scanned the extensive menu and noted the platters of food being brought to nearby tables. We sipped our drinks, a Yuzu Lemon Drop, citrus vodka, yuzu in fused sake, for my companion and a Ginger Cosmo for me. In addition to a bevy of vodka cocktails there are infused sake and international wines which start at $8 for merlot. Cocktails are $10 to $12.
It was a chilly day so we opted for hot appetizers. We shared Oyster Martini with hazelnut, pomegranate sauce; Rock Shrimp Tempura with creamy spice sauce; and Seafood Spring Roll with pomegranate pesto sauce. Each was unusual and very tasty. Other hot appetizers include Tempura Veggies or Shrimp, King Crab Dumpling, Crispy Pork Filet Mignon Cubes and Butterfly Green Tea Ravioli with lobster, porcini filling and tellegio cheese sauce. Hot appetizers are $5 for Edamame, steamed soy beans, to $13 for Miso Black Cod.
Cold appetizers include Spinach Sesame Tuna Tataki, Seafood Ceviche, and Carpaccio of Salmon with ginger capers sauce, or Tuna with Peperoncino Vinaigrette. We were intrigued by the several Pizza Nuova. We ordered the pizza with spicy crab and tobiko avocado. We could have ordered the pizza with seared salmon and cheese. The pizza is $14 and $13.50.
Next we were brought a platter of raw Red Snapper, Tuna and the tiniest of shrimp with appropriate accompaniments. The shrimp were wonderfully tender and sweet, the fish was so fresh it crackled. The list of sushi and sashimi choices is extensive and there also is a group of sushi and handrolls including Yellow Tail, Jalapeno, Spicy Tuna and Eel Avocado. These choices are priced by the piece starting at $2. There always is a daily luncheon special.
There are daily lunch boxes served with seafood tempura, shumai and miso soup or house salad, Tuna roll or California roll, Chicken Teriyaki Salmon Teriyaki, Shitake Tofu Steak or Spicy Garlic Shrimp at $13.50 to $16. Other special lunches served with miso soup or house salad include Sushi (seven pieces), Tuna Lover, Tuna and Salmon (three rolls), Unaju (boiled eel over rice), Crispy Pork Tenderloin or Mixed Tempura, $12. to $16.
We could not resist dessert: Chocolate Turtle Spicy Cake which is flourless and moist with dark chocolate ganache in the center, topped with honey glazed tasted pecans, and Tempura Cheese Cake. This great cake is dropped into the tempura cooker and the combination of soft center within the crispy outside makes for a great sweet. There are ice creams and sorbets as well as Banana Spring Roll and Chocolate Pyramid of mousse and crème brulee. Desserts are $8.
Hours: Sunday to Monday 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Tuesday to Friday: 11:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Saturday: 12 noon to midnight. The nearby bar-lounge has similar hours
Restaurant Notes Around Town
Fairly new in the neighborhood on the West Side of Manhattan is Earthen Oven, 53 West 72nd Street at Columbus Avenue (212) 579-8888. This Indian restaurant provides a variety of food, well-presented and in goodly portions. After three visits the Shrimp Curry, the Tulsi Chicken Tikka and the Lamb Chops Masaledar were very tasty. In addition we shared Kasmiri Nan, a bread stuffed with almonds, cashews, pistachios, coconut, dried apricots and cherries. It was outstanding. We also enjoyed Tiger Prawns on another occasion. For dessert we always have Mango and ginger kulfi, a delicious ice cream. Prices are reasonable; our Shiraz wine was $6 a glass. The Tiger Prawns are $21.95 as are Lamb Chops. The chicken is $15.95 and that great Nan is $4.25. Shrimp Curry is $18.95. Lunch is served 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dinner is from 5 to 11 p.m.
When attending the Metropolitan Opera, The Grand Tier Restaurant is the place to visit. (212) 799-3400. Wines by the glass are $14 to $18. My recent supper was Lump Crab Cake with a salad. This was two appetizers. My companion had Seared Scallops with sea urchin roe. Other choices include Moroccan Spiced Duck Breast, Black Angus Beef Tenderloin and Herb Roasted Giannone Farms Chicken. Entrée prices are $29 for the chicken to $42 for the beef. Our dessert was Pistachio Tartufo, A pistachio ice cream bombe with blood oranges and Sicilian Pistachios at $15.
If you have a concert at Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center, Panevino on its premises is the place for a quick bite (212) 874-7000. There is a Prix Fixe dinner at $38, but there are a number of al la carte selections. We had a Beef Carpaccio which was delicious. My companion had a Tuscan Seafood Salad with grilled calamari, scallops, shrimp, fennel and fingerling potatoes. We also shared a Prosciutto di Parma and enjoyed a fine Tiramisu for dessert. Wine are $8 a glass. Our first courses were $14 to $16 and the dessert was $9.
The Time Warner Building at 59th Street has a number of expensive restaurants, but if you want just light food you can visit Bouchon Bakery on the third floor (212) 823-0366. The best selection is the Lobster Bisque, a specialty of the day. Assorted sandwiches include Ham and Cheese on Baguette, Roast Beef and Fontina Cheese on Palladin. Sandwiches are $9.75 for Cashew Butter and Jam on Toasted Brioche to Tartine of Tuna Nicoise on Pain de Champagne at $13.95. There is a large assortment of cookies and desserts.
An American Place at Lord & Taylor, 38th Street and Fifth Avenue is open Monday to Friday from 11:30 a.m to 3 p.m. The décor is simple and the service is good. Sandwiches include Grilled Corned Beef Reuben; Marinated Roasted Portabella and Mushroom Fontine Wrap Panion; and my choice, a delicious Roast Hudson Valley Turkey Sandwich on toasted cranberry-nut bread with crisp apple wood smoke bacon, New York State Cheddar with herb dressing. At $10.95 there are such main course as Warm Sliced Steak Salad, Waldorf Salad and a daily quiche. Entrée prices are $10.95 for Caesar Salad to $13.95 for Salmon Filet. There are luscious desserts, too, such as Jim Beam's Fresh Berry Shortcake, New York Style Cream Cheese Cake, and Warm Apple Gallette Glazed with wildflower honey. Desserts are $5.05 and $6.95.
The dollar sign indicates the approximate cost of dining for two persons, excluding beverages, tax and gratuity.