Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Rockin' It at Rockefellers

Chef Jill Vedaa's food got my husband and I into Rockefellers, while the restaurant's cover-free, live music kept us there for three delightful hours. We sat at a lounge area for a view of Grammy Award-winning trumpeter Kenny Davis, and crooner and keyboard man Harry Bacharach. 
Our pick from the wine list — 2009 Howling Moon Old Vine Zinfandel from Lodi, California, chosen because we visited there and enjoy this varietal — turned out to be quite good, and a steal $20 for the bottle. It was expertly decanted by our server, a sommelier-in-training.

We decided to take a grazing approach to dinner. By the time the check came, my husband and I had shared and sampled our way through a bowl of mussels; a plate of grilled bread with garlic-laden white bean puree and green olive tapenade to spread on it; mini mahi and avocado tacos in soft corn tortillas with pickled jalapeno, tomatilla salsa and citrus crema; and a vegetable tart with pickled ramps and fig jam. All was excellent.

Vedaa came out to chat, and I found out two important things. First, there's a new and very competent manager on board. And second, Vedaa has redone her menu for fall and winter. It just launched yesterday, but I got a sneak peak of what she'll be cooking.

photos by Shelley Pike Polewchak,
MultipleXposure Photography
There isn't a single dish on the new menu that I don't want to try. She's changing up the white wine and lemon mussels we had to a version done with roasted tomatoes and herbs. Bruschetta will be topped with butternut squash and truffle honey — a divine combination — plus shaved Parmesan and pecan dust. I'm especially lusting after the chicken livers with apple ginger chutney, pancetta and arugula. And those are just her starters. She's offering an intriguing salad composed of bibb lettuce, grapefruit, shaved fennel and house-smoked trout in a coriander vinaigrette. The entrees include duck legs, a pork chop with caramelized cabbage, swordfish with edamame puree and cucumber sesame slaw. I was happy to find that Vedaa's signature coconut milk glazed fried calamari with cilantro remains on the menu.

Whether you're a first-timer, someone who had a less than stellar experience here in the past, or a regular, there are plenty of reasons to come have dinner at Rockefellers now.


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