West Branch

September 18, 2009

One of the things I love about New York City is the plethora of restaurants. There’s always someplace new to try and so many different areas of the city to explore to find whatever you’re in the mood for. During the week, Andy and I like to go out at least once for dinner and generally we like to stay in our neighborhood (as opposed to the weekends when we’re more likely to venture downtown), so we’re always looking for someplace new to try.

A couple of weeks ago we went to West Branch, a local bistro owned by chef Tom Valenti. While some of the items on the menu fall under the “comfort food” category (read: burgers, fries, fish and chips), there is also a seasonal element that of course I love.

I started my meal with a Panzanella Salad, an Italian salad that is generally made with day old, crusty bread, fresh tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese.

Panzanella Salad
Panzanella Salad

West Branch’s version had tomatoes, arugula, red onion, and whole wheat croutons. Overall it was delicious — the tomatoes were so fresh, juicy, and flavorful. My only complaint was that they dressed it with way too much oil (you can see a layer in the bottom of the bowl). They actually gave me a spoon for the salad, but I used my fork instead to let some of the oil drip off.

For my main course, I had a terrific grilled sea bass served over a sweet corn succotash, with a side of corn panna cotta.

grilled sea bass with corn succotash and corn panna cotta
grilled sea bass with corn succotash and corn panna cotta

I generally don’t like panna cotta becuase of the custard-like texture, so I was debating whether to get this dish. Boy am I glad I did! The fish was beautifully grilled and the perfect portion size — looks about the size of a deck of cards, just what I recommend. The corn succotash was mouth-watering — I couldn’t get enough of it! I even enjoyed a few bites of the corn panna cotta, which had actual pieces of corn inside.

Overall, I’d say my meal was fabulous. By choosing an appetizer that was full of vegetables, I didn’t have to worry that my main course sides were heavier on the starch (corn is considered a starchy vegetable), and I had a good amount of protein as well. Can’t wait to see what they have come winter!

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