Blue Chip Asset

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Blue Chip Asset

Buffalo mozzarella and toast with an heirloom cherry tomato, black olive and red pesto salad.

          Restaurants come and go on the Upper West Side.  Some modest efforts take root, agreeable for family dine-outs. Asset, ambitious sibling to Tessa one block north, is different. It favors grownups in its soaring industrial space, with a large bar downstairs and a more intimate stand upstairs.

Blue Chip Asset

A narrow entrance leads to the bar and a vast space on two floors including our little hideaway.

Blue Chip Asset

It’s no surprise to find Asset’s partners eating dinner about seven as we arrive for ours.

          Asset would be an asset in any neighborhood. A good-looking crowd. Professional crew. Owners making sure all is well.  I like the seclusion of the four tables in the downstairs back room with its low light and striking black steel anatomy. Just as well, since, without asking, I am seated there all three times I come for dinner.

Blue Chip Asset

Grilled octopus is served on beans with charred gondal olives and piquillo peppers in a citrus emulsion.

Blue Chip Asset

Pastas burst with flavor, like this lemony cavatelli with fennel sausage, broccoli rabe and Calabrian chili.

          What is most welcoming for sure is the very good food. The rich, cake-like focaccia. The savory filet mignon carpaccio with pickled shallots, crisp capers and shaved Parmesan. The grilled octopus on rice and beans with charred gordal olives and piquillo peppers in a citrus dressing. The complex flavors of cavatelli with fennel sausage, broccoli rabe, Calabrian chili and preserved lemon.

Blue Chip Asset

One evening Asset offered fresh truffles with linguine and we couldn’t resist.

Blue Chip Asset

We ordered a duo of twin burger plates with sharp cheddar and caramelized onion: one rare, one medium rare.

          Like executive chef John Schafer’s mix of offerings at Tessa, Asset offers a contemporary American collection of this and that: Lamb and manchego empanadas, roasted bone marrow with blackberry agrodolce and crostini, a huddle of pastas, and mains: the more or less usual tuna, snapper, free-range chicken, filet mignon and burger you see everywhere, here properly cooked, simply grilled or somehow adorned.

Blue Chip Asset

Asset may be a place for grownups, but adults like us never outgrow their love for pigs in a blanket.

          That first evening our quartet craved the wagyu pigs in a blanket, piled like a fence with a homemade dipping ketchup alongside. I ask to have them, please, timed with cocktails…but no, they show up before drinks.  It is our server’s first day too, she confides. She will check with someone to get us a better description of the duck.

Blue Chip Asset

We share a order of ancient grains: quinoa, faro with mango, cherry tomatoes and walnuts in apple vinaigrette.

          We share an appetizer of ancient grains – quinoa, faro, mango, cherry tomato, chopped walnuts and avocado in an apple vinaigrette, requesting serving pieces as we usually do. Then we help ourselves from the middle of the bare table.

Blue Chip Asset

Perhaps the moulard duck with plum would have been more tender if I hadn’t asked for it so rare.

          Small side plates are perfect for passing along cuts of steak, fries, not-quite-rare-enough salmon with corn pudding, and the possibly too rare (and therefore too tough) duck with faro and garden vegetables.

Blue Chip Asset

The broccoli rabe my friend chose with his “simply grilled” tuna was cold, so he left it untouched.

Blue Chip Asset

The $10 macaroni I chose for my “main” that evening came loose in a bowl not baked as I expected.

          I like that most of the entrees come with vegetables.  Alas, on another evening when we’re just two, the broccoli rabe my friend picks as the “side of his choice” with “simply grilled” tuna is cold and goes uneaten. I order the $10 side of macaroni as my main course. Pasta spirals comes loose in a soup bowl, tossed in butter and cheese, not baked as I expect. More than I can finish after the shared prologue.

Blue Chip Asset

The house sent complimentary desserts like this baked Alaska.

Blue Chip Asset

This rustic apple pie, also a gift of the house, is one of my favorite desserts at Asset.

          I should confess that I’m getting special attention because I’m recognized by Will Tracy and Larry Bellone, the partners here. That includes complimentary desserts all three evenings. I’m not as wild about the cheesecake or the key lime sundae as I am about the rustic apple pie. 

Blue Chip Asset

Yarisis Jacobo’s regal 15-layer chocolate cake, served with a bottle of sweet booze, is my favorite dessert.


          My favorite is pastry hand Yarisis Jacobo’s regal 15-layer chocolate cake, so much like the Strip House beauty we used to order for birthday parties. Asset serves it with Kahlua, Bailey’s and Amaretto milk blended in a small  bottle alongside. The cake is so rich that even four sweet-lovers can’t finish it.

Blue Chip Asset

Ice cream and berries are appealing in the key lime sundae.

Blue Chip Asset

The berry sorbet comes in a fanciful dessert: another gift of the house.

          In a move to add a little nightlife feel, Asset has a disc jockey tucked up front somewhere. My friends don’t like live music at dinner, but it’s far enough away and no one complains.  I happen to be a little hard of hearing myself. That can be an asset, too.

329 Columbus between West 75th and 76th Streets 212 517 1987. Happy hour daily 4 to 6 pm. Dinner daily 5 pm to 11 pm. Late-night dining Thursday through Saturday 11 pm to 1 am. Brunch Saturday and Sunday 11 am to 3 pm.

Author

  • In her role as restaurant critic of New York Magazine (1968 to January 2002) Detroit-born Gael Greene helped change the way New Yorkers (and many Americans) think about food. A scholarly anthropologist could trace the evolution of New York restaurants on a timeline that would reflect her passions and taste over 30 years from Le Pavillon to nouvelle cuisine to couturier pizzas, pastas and hot fudge sundaes, to more healthful eating. But not to foams and herb sorbet; she loathes them. As co-founder with James Beard and a continuing force behind Citymeals-on-Wheels as board chair, Ms. Greene has made a significant impact on the city of New York. For her work with Citymeals, Greene has received numerous awards and was honored as the Humanitarian of the Year (l992) by the James Beard Foundation. She is the winner of the International Association of Cooking Professionals magazine writing award, 2000, and a Silver Spoon from Food Arts magazine. Ms. Greene's memoir, "Insatiable, Tales from a Life of Delicious Excess"(www.insatiable-critic.com/Insatiable_Book.aspx )was published April 2006. Earlier non-fiction books include "Delicious Sex, A Gourmet Guide for Women and the Men Who Want to Love Them Better" and "BITE: A New York Restaurant Strategy." Her two novels, "Blue skies, No Candy" and "Doctor Love" were New York Times best sellers. Visit her website at: www.insatiable-critic.com

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