Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Cherrywood Kitchen: Sophisticated BBQ In Manhattan’s Most Elite ‘Hood!

By: Anne M. Raso

The words “sophisticated” and “BBQ” are rarely thought of together. As a matter of fact, BBQ is probably considered only as “casual dining” but a place like Cherrywood Kitchen in glamorous Soho has taken it up to the “fine dining” level not only because of its location, but for its use of fresh seafood (mostly brought in ALIVE from Chinatown markets) and Wagyu beef and other artisanal meats.

Cherrywood Kitchen is a stone’s throw away the Soho Grand so it is bringing in a lot of out of town clientele from there as well as neighborhood folks and basically any foodie looking to follow former Nobu chef Chris Cheung in his new ventures. Nearly everything is roasted over cherrywood (thus, the name of the eatery) and servers are obviously foodies themselves—they know the nuance of every dish. Start off with their stunning fruit-filled Sangria (served in a large ten ounce portion) when you sit down but before you ponder the wondrous menu and the waiter brings you a wonderful complimentary hot loaf of Housemade Garlic Ciabatta with Whipped Blue Cheese that is light and flavorful. Most diners I have spoken to head straight for the Lobster Tacos ($14) as their starters. Amongst the foodie crowd, these are considered in the city’s Top 10 Lobster Tacos—and the restaurant has only been open three weeks. They are cram full of lobster meat with a slab of homemade Old Bay Mayo and a serving is three tacos about four inches in length and diameter. The shell is not a corn tortilla but rather a homemade wonton shell and fresh scallions just add the right subtle flavor.
Housemade Garlic Ciabatta with Whipped Blue Cheese 
Next, I fell in love with the Micro Greens ($12) which consisted of baby mache, micro bull hair beet and micro radish placed over spear-toasted large croutons and topped with artisanal; Goat Feta. Wow, it was a meeting of the richest cheese and most tender of greens!
Micro Greens
The first entrée I selected was the Wagyu Ribeye ($46) and have to admit that the marbelization in the meat was amazing. Be sure to order rare to medium range so the fat does not render out of this awesome cut of meat brought in all the way from Colorado. The meat is a generous 12-ounce portion and comes garnished with min and shallots on top of baby Gem lettuce. The garlic and mustard cream sauce is just portioned perfectly on top and is not overwhelming but gentle.
Wagyu Ribeye
Then I tried the Hot Cherrywood Smoked Ribs ($29), which is a signature dish for Cherrywood Kitchen. I was not going to a BBQ eatery without trying the ribs. These pork ribs are marinated in pineapple, cilantro, garlic and soy sauce, cooked over cherrywood (no surprise) and then topped with an amazing homemade Sweet Chili Glaze. They were so tender that the meat fell off the bone and the somewhat sour Apple Celery Slaw on the side was the perfect accompaniment.
Hot Cherrywood Smoked Ribs
For dessert, I had the Crunch And Munch Crumble Pie ($10) that is made with different seasonal fruit depending on the chef’s mood but we got apple. It had the classic French crumbs on top and was served warm—snack time favorite Crunch And Munch was liquefied and baked on top. The peanuts were a little salty and were a great contrast to the sweetness of the apple filling. My dining partner shared her Valrhona Chocolate Sesame Fritters ($11) with me. The fritters had the lovely chewy consistency of the Japanese Mochi dessert that you find in many Asian food stores. These were tender and delicious and served over warm caramelized bananas and dark chocolate cookie crumbs.

I can’t wait to go back to Cherrywood Kitchen. I am not sure if I am brave enough to try their already famous eel Stuffed Fresh Killed Chicken just because I have always been scared of eels—and the name sounds like name of a prop from a 1970s Alice Cooper concert—but foodies have been lining up for this particular dish at the restaurant. You can expect nightly outrageous surprises from Cheung and that he hand picks a lot of the items (especially the fish) and often carries them into the restaurant himself. That shows real dedication to his promise of not only being on the cutting edge of New York City BBQ, but of his devotion to being the freshest restaurant in Soho as well.

Cherrywood Kitchen
300 Spring Street
New York, NY 10013
(646) 559-2328
Cuisine: BBQ Fusion

Cherrywood Kitchen on Urbanspoon
Photos: Anne Raso, except interior and micro greens courtesy of Cherrywood Kitchen

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