Written by Hulda Lawrence
New to the theatre district is Mr. Robata at 1674 Broadway at 52nd Street with hours from noon to 3 a.m. and also available for semi-private events. For those who are not sure about Japanese cuisine, "Robata" is a style of Japanese grilling.
Our server, Diana, was most helpful in telling us about the plans for this restaurant; with 75 people now accommodated, they will have more room by expanding next door.
All cocktails are $16 and on my return visits I will enjoy "Touch of Heaven" with Absolut, wild tea, green tea, simple syrup, Godiva white chocolate garnished with anise star; "Nashi Spice" with vodka, fresh ginger, green tea, pear puree, garnished with fresh pear; and "Yamamomo Fizz" with vodka, plum wine, peach puree, proscecco, garnished with rose petals. Lunch is served from noon to 3 p.m. and all entrees are accompanied by miso soup and mixed green salad. There are a number of sushi and sashimi choices. Mr. Robata Organic Green Salad includes mixed greens, fennel, green apple and dried red chili pepper strings. Spicy Tofu Salad presents fresh organic tofu, salsa, caviar, homemade scallop and shrimp-infused chili oil, macadamia nuts, micro ice leaf and lime zest.
In addition to a plethora of sushi and sashimi there are a number of Robata entrees. Luncheon dishes include Vegetable Set, with asparagus and eggplant, eryngii mushrooms, carrots, and white onions. The Meat Set is an assortment of chicken meatballs, chicken wings and pork belly. These dishes are $19 to $28. Other entrees are Chilean Sea Bass, saikyo marinated and grilled with bok choy, textured eringii mushrooms and truffle mashed potatoes topped with a ponzi marinated onion slice, $32; and Tasmanian Salmon, filet of salmon grilled until golden brown, served on a bed of seasoned rice, grilled endive, yuzu caper hollandaise and mushroom sauce, $28. For a real treat try the Wagyu Filet Mignon, their famous tender Japanese "Wagyu" beef served with grilled asparagus, ginger teriyaki and and a choice of spicy french fries or truffle mashed potatoes, $79.
The Tapas menu features Lobster Ceviche with onion, cilantro, and lime topped with orange zest, jalapeno, guacamole and passion ponzu vinaigrette, $22; Mallard Duck Breast and Foie Gras, Asian style roasted duck breast, sauteed foie gras with caramelized apples and drizzled with a warm strawberry sauce, $22; and Wagyu Sliders, tender ground beef sliders served with guacamole and sauteed mushrooms, $16.
The Pre-fixe dinner menu is $40 and is served daily from 5 to 7:30 p.m. The first course is a choice among salads, Grilled Baby Octopus and a Sashimi Martini of diced tuna and fresh herb butter escargot. The second course is devoted to Mr. Robata. There is a sushi sampler of tuna, salmon, yellowtail, Spanish mackerel, shrimp, eel and one-half New York Roll. There also is a Robata Grilled assortment of eringii mushroom, zucchini, brussels sprouts, chicken breast and filet mignon. Another choice might be Mr. Robata Miso Fondue done with king crab, shrimp, fresh organic vegetables and a side of miso cheese and anchovy sauce. Dessert on the Pre-Fixe is a choice between Orange Scented Chocolate Mousse topped with brandy cream or Lychee Zenzai.
Other desserts include such delights as Eggplant Compote, Profiteroles au Chocolate, Mochi Ice Cream wrapped in rice cakes in Sesame, Red Bean, Strawberry and Mango flavors. Lychee and Mango sorbet are also available.
For an interesting change in food and preparation, Mr. Robata Grill and Sushi Bar should be visited.
Trattoria Dopo Teatro at 125 West 44th Street, between 6th Avenue and Broadway (212) 869-2849, is a newly revamped place for those who want a superior spot for before or after theatre sustenance. This theatre district classic features the seasonal flavors of the new chef, Alfredo Alvarez. A well-regarded chef, Alvarez arrived at Trattoria Dopo Teatro a year ago after spending time catering to celebrities in Miami at his restaurant, Glacosa.
This is an attractive spot and we ordered salads as a first course. Our waiter, Alex from Equador, brought us some delicious hot bread that is baked in a brick oven in the back of the handsome restaurant. This still warm bread arrives at the table where the tomato focaccia and rosemary rolls are waiting to be dipped in a strained gremolata of olive oil, garlic and basil.
We shared two salads: one Insalata Tropicale of hearts of palm, avocado, shrimp, lime juice and olive oil. Our second Insalata di Carciofi was artichoke salad with shaved Kalamata olives with lemon dressing. These salads were $12 and $14.
With our main entrees of pasta, Alex suggested wines by the glass: a Pinot Grigio for my companion, $9 and Montepulciano, $10, for me. We ordered Ravioli di Ricotta e Carciofi, artichoke ravioli with a light tomato coulis at $19; and Mezzelune all aragosta of half moon shape ravioli with lobster and creamy pink sauce at $22.
Our Filetto di dentice ai carciofi was a wonderful red snapper filet sauteed in white wine and artichoke hearts accompanied by sauteed zucchini trifolati. It was superior at $24. Incidentally, the executive chef, Alfred Alvarez, seems to enjoy using artichokes in many dishes and they do add a bit of spice.
There is a fine dessert menu and we appreciated the homemade ice creams and sorbets along with Croccantino toasted almonds, Mascarpone Flan, as well as Pizza Nutella, a thin crust pizza with walnut chocolate cream.
There is an excellent Pre-Theatre Dinner for $24.50 served Monday through Saturday 4:30 p.m to 7:30 p.m. It features a choice of Soup of the Day or Green Salad followed by a choice of entrees: Rigatoni with fresh tomato and basil; Fish of the Day with fresh tomatoes, capers and olives, served with broccoli in garlic and oil; or Chicken Cacciatora, tomato, roasted peppers and mushrooms, served with mashed potatoes. And a choice of homemade desserts.
On the lower level of this charming place are rooms such as a wine cellar and private rooms for parties.
The wine cellar accomodates 140 seated diners and 200 for cocktails. There is an American Room that seats 35 and another Theatre room which also seats 35. Overall capacity of Trattoria Dopo Teatro for private parties is 380.
Hours: Daily Monday through Saturday noon to midnight, and Sunday 3 p.m. to midnight. A pre-theatre menu is also serve from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
The dollar sign indicates the approximate cost of dining for two persons, excluding beverages, tax and gratuity.