Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A celebratory meal in the city

I'm celebrating my birthday this week with meals at restaurants familiar and new.

Last night, I had some terrific fish at Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill, across from the Time-Warner Center in Manhattan. Before dining there, I looked over the $275 tasting menus at Per Se. I was surprised that service (tip) is included.

At Blue Ribbon, I started with a crunchy seaweed salad ($7) and a trio of sushi rolls ($16.50) -- Spanish mackerel, California and tuna, which I eat only a few times a year because of its high mercury content. The rice in the rolls was warm and the tuna melted in my mouth.

My entree was juicy, pan-roasted mahi-mahi ($28), also known as dolphin fish. It was served on a thick bed of  julienned vegetables and crowned by a large tangle of  thread-like, fried carrot -- how did they do that? Unfortunately, the fish was bathed in a plum-butter sauce that had no plum taste and I blame the dim lighting for my not noticing that on the menu description (I try to avoid butter). If there is a next time, I'll ask for a soy-sake sauce.

I washed it all down with a 22-ounce bottle of Kirin Ichiban beer ($10). The restaurant is windowless and uses paper napkins. When you are led to your table, you'll hear shouted greetings from the five sushi chefs. The sound system has songs by Billie Holiday and Ray Charles, a fitting appetizer for the jazz concert I attended later.

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