April 25, 2006

Dinner (and dessert) in Hipster Heaven

The Diner's Deck saved us $32 last night (before tip). Pretty sweet indeed, if you ask me.

Meg and I went down to the lower east side to take advantage of the free round of cocktails the Diner's Deck was offering in conjunction with their usual $10 discount at Barmarche (or their useful website). We followed our dinner with awesome rice pudding (to alleviate any confusion).

If you're turned-off by hipster-y places, you may as well stop reading. Barmarche was very hipster, though not too much so for my tastes. Dark lighting, dark wood tables, large Versailles-style mirror. It seems practically impossible to get a bad seat (we were seated next to one of the many windows).

We started off with our (delightfully free) cocktails, a Strawberry Fields (rhum clement vsop, cucumber, strawberry) for Meg and a Soul-Glo (starr african rum, ginger blackberries, mango) for me. Meg, as per usual, made the better choice. The Strawberry Fields had a near-perfect balance of sweet and savory, fruit and vegetable. Light and refreshing; the cucumber gave it a vegetal quality that's not often found in drinks. Mine on the other hand flirted with extremes: sweet, sour, and spicy, but went a bit too far in all of those directions.

I got the highly recommended, ecologically unsound, 60-second swordfish, and Meg chose the garlic shredded pork with sweet potato and pepper-Burgundy glaze. The swordfish, which itself was mostly dry and incompletely satisfying, came with a brilliant crushed avocado, jalapeno crème fraiche. The mellowness of the avocado played perfectly with the jalapeno. Meg's garlic shredded pork was practically perfect. Moist with just a little sweetness.

Unless you plan on getting apps or dessert, perhaps at Rice to Riches, as we did, you might leave hungry. It's not as if the servings were tiny, but they were not particularly generous (and I was starved).

Afterward, we went a few blocks down to Rice to Riches, a rice pudding parlor that has achieved, if what I've heard is to be trusted, cult status. Having tasted this rice pudding, I believe that there is substance behind that rumor. The pudding wasn't good, it was incredible. To date, I had never had a rice pudding that didn't make me gag and this delicious creamy rice, the cheesecake and chocolate chip flavored, was smooth, calming and quite pleasant.

To describe the pudding further, it looks like extremely creamy rice pudding. It is mostly dry and maintains its form when scooped, not drippy (gross). The mouthfeel is somewhat similar to cheesecake and the bits of rice are so tender I hardly noticed them. And the flavors are bold and distinctive without being overpowering or overly sweet.

The space itself, very well-lit ultra-modernJapanesee theme, is really out of sync with the rest of the neighborhood, dark and brooding.Hilariouss signs and instructions cover every wall and hang from the ceiling. It's a great place. You should go. Oh, and I found the ultra-small one to be the perfect size. (limited flavors on the teeny one, though. The normal-person small one is nearly enough for two people)

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Thanks to Aarora & bbeukema, flickr, for the photo. Mine continue to suck.

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