Written by Hulda Lawrence
On 9th Avenue at 661, between 45th and 46th Streets is Breeze, a Thai-French fusion restaurant (212) 262-7777. Very new in décor with an accent on contemporary music (the menu is a plastic CD holder and the dessert list is on a flat record) it is clean and fresh as is its name. At a recent lunch, we met owner Mayurachat Charyapitukkul to learn about the cuisine and its preparation.
From the list of alcoholic beverages we noted there were five beers on draft plus four bottled beers along with such fascinating cocktails as a Geisha (gin, Campari, sake and orange juice), which my companion ordered. My choice was Cruzan Lemon Rum with lime wedges, sugar pressed with strawberry . There are Breeze martinis and Saketinis at $9 each. Wines run from $7 to $9 a glass and $28 to $34 a bottle. We chose K. Jackson Sauvignon Blanc for my companion and K. Jackson Merlot as my choice.
With our fancy drinks we shared Beef Carpaccio Esan Style a delicious tenderloin with fresh lime, roasted dried chili, toasted rice, Thai herbs and sticky rice cubes. We also tried Crab and Ripe Mango Summer Roll, blue crab claws rolled with ripe mango, scallions, cilantro leaves, glass noodles with a Srirracha lemon emulsion. Other starters include Breeze Papaya Salad, Grilled Octopus, Fried Mushroom Dumpling, Glass Noodle Sausages, Breeze Squid and Warm Salad of Duck Confit and lightly Wilted Frisee. This was only the first course.
Under the heading "Fresh Breeze" we noted King Tiger Prawns and chose them. The prawns were grilled then folded into fresh pasta sheets with coconut green curry sauce and zucchini noodles sauteed with Thai basil and shallots. This dish is $17. Other Fresh Breeze entrees include Braised Beef, Duck Breast, Tenderloin of Beef, Breeze Sea Bass, Seared Diver Scallops, Roasted Butternut Squash and Pork Tenderloin with Glass noodle Sausages. Prices are $14 to $21.
Our second entrée, under "Wild Breeze," was Crystal Pad Thai: Thai pan-fried glass noodles with shrimp, egg, peanut, tofu and bean sprouts. Other Wild Breezes include Tofu Eggplant, Green Curry Lime Leaf Chicken, Breeze Beef Basil Fried Rice and Clay Pot Prawns. This group is $11 to $17.
Many of the diners were happily consuming the prix fixe lunch at $8.95, served with a choice of tofu mushroom soup or mixed green salad. There are South Asian Sandwiches of Seasoned and Fried Tofu, Grilled Chicken Breast, House Spiced and Cured Smoked Pork Belly, House Glass Noodle Sausages or Grilled Flank Steak. These come on a fresh baguette. Other lunch choices are Grilled Hamburger, Breeze tossed salad with topping or grilled beef, grilled chicken, grilled glass noodles sausages or fried tofu. There also are Shrimp Fried Rice, Tofu Yellow Curry, Green Papaya Salad, Spicy Grilled Beef Salad and Chicken Basil Noodle.
From the dessert menu we selected Kaffir Lime Scented Crème Brulee and shared that along with wonderful Fried Ice Cream with Raspberry Wine Reduction and Whipped Cream. Other desserts are Molten Chocolate Cake, Crispy Honey Banana Coconut in Banana Leaf Blanket, and Beatle in Wafer Hut (red bean ice cream with Chocolate wafer). Desserts are $6; ice cream with chocolate wafer stick is $4.
This is a fascinating cuisine with a multitude of choices. Delivery is made between 34th and 59th Streets, Hudson River to 6th Avenue with a $15 minimum.
Hours: Sunday thru Thursday: 11:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
On 55th Street, just across the way from City Center at 136 West is Abboccato, a fairly new restaurant (212) 265 4000. Located near many theatres, Carnegie Hall and not too far from the AOL Time Warner Building mall, it is in the Blakely Hotel. It is small and cozy and its name Abboccato in Italian means "pleasing to the mouth" - a recent lunch there underscores that description.
Our cocktails were brought in individual miniature shakers, and from that we knew a good bit of thought had gone into the place’s preparation. Although there is an express lunch for $22 we decide to try choices from the full menu. We began with Pappa al Pommodoro, a good beefsteak and country bread soup with Tuscan extra virgin olive oil, at $8. We followed this with Vitello Salad consisting of veal scallopine, asparagus, oven-dried tomatoes, gorgonzola, watercress, shaved fennel, toasted walnuts with a balsamic vinaigrette. It was delicious and was $20. We also shared Casunziei Ampezzani, half-moon pasta filled wit beets and gorgonzola dolce, tossed with Lombard butter and poppy seeds. It was exceptional at $18.
The white wines we sampled were Kerner Abbazzia di Novacella, Alto Adige 2004, Tocai Friulano, Rodaro, Friuli 2003 and Fiano di Avellino, Cantina dei Monaci, Campania 2003. The reds we enjoyed were Bric Ginestra, Paolo Conterno, Piemonte 2000, Tramonti Rosso Giuseppe Apicella 2003 and Rosso di Montalcino, Renieri, Roscana 2003. Wines by the glass are $10 to $19.
Our guide to this splendid menu was Giovanni who introduced us to chef Jake Addeo. With his knowledge and background as a CIA grad and working at several fine restaurants we learned a good bit about the fascinating dishes we had yet to try.
Antipasti includes Pesce Curdo; Affettati Misti, thinly sliced imported Italian Meats served with gnocco fritto; Mozzarella de Bufala ai Quattro Gusti, mozzarella with four seasonal flavors, $10 to $14.
Primi Piatti includes Tagliatelle al Ragu Bolognese, $22 and Cavatelli di Ricotta e Zucca, ricotta and squash dumplings, Swiss chard, butternut squash, baked ricotta salata, $22.
Secondi Piatti are Spigola Striata, pan roasted wild striped bass, caponata stuffed esfcarole, $30; Pollastrello alla Romana, chicken; sweet peppers, tomato olives and rosemary, $28. and Scottadito di Agnello grilled lamb chops $32.
Our desserts were Dolce Federico, hazelnut crusted panettone, orange marmalade semifreddo with warm gianduia chocolate sauce; Bomboloni ai Friutti di Basco, Cinnamon dusted miniature doughnuts, mixed berries and vanilla mascarpone; and an excellent Panna Cotta al Frutto della Passione. Desserts are $9. Cheese plates are $10 for one selection and $18 for a selection of five cheeses.
On weekdays there is an express lunch of two courses for $22; with dessert it is $26. It consists for Fritto Misto, Misticanza organic greens or Minestra di Polenta, vegetarian polenta sup of black chick peas, carrots, onions and Tuscan olive oil. The second curse is Ravioli di Ricotta, Pollastrello alla Romana or a daily market fish. Desserts is trio of ice creams, Panna Cotta or Bonet, chocolate mousse. Evenings this menu is a pre-theatre special until 6:45 and also is available after 10 p.m. and all day Sundays.
Hours: Lunch: Monday through Saturday noon to 3 p..m
The dollar sign indicates the approximate cost of dining for two persons, excluding beverages, tax and gratuity.