Sometimes a reviewer experiences something so phenomenal it is hard to put in words. It is true. It becomes this vision in the mind that you struggle with to get just right. Hortus NYC (271 Fifth Avenue) put me up to this challenge. And I took it on with pride.
This Michelin-recognized restaurant that features modern Asian cuisine is truly a slice of heaven. Everything about it just glistens and sparkles. From the moment you walk through the doors you feel as if you have been elevated in life.
Executive Chef Youjin Jung of Del Posto and Osteria Mozza fame has masterfully constructed a menu for the gods. Her food is exquisite, thoughtful, and full of passion that is ignited by the great city of New York. Like the Big Apple, her dishes are a reflection of a melting pot stirred to perfection. Each presentation is unique and full of color and life like that which we find in this great place we call home.
The name Hortus is derived from the Latin word for garden and this aesthetic runs through the entire restaurant. The establishment welcomes guests to a garden patio equipped with propane heat lamps, or there is a properly distanced dining room area that spreads over two floors. The staff and the décor match the outstanding menu. All touches in the restaurant are done with a sense of treating the diner as a member of royalty.
Highlights from what stands out as my favorite menu in New York City for fall include several things. For starters there is a Pumpkin Soup, a creamy combination of kobocha and butternut squash with a cilantro espuma, served with grilled sourdough bread for dipping. To taste this is what it must be like to swallow a cloud on a beautiful fall day.
There is also an Autumn Salad, which is filled with roasted delicate squash, radicchio, Asian pear with parmesan cheese, drizzled with a pine nut dressing and red wine vinegar and adorned with fried parsley. It is set with just the right amount of love. In addition, there is a beautiful Scallop dish with cauliflower, pickled grapes, and house-made xo sauce.
Appetizers are incredible portions, so be sure to leave room for such immaculate entrees such as Spicy Braised Short Rib served with Chinese pearl barley risotto and Asian pear gremolata with Asian pear, parsley, and watermelon radishes toasted with a lemon vinaigrette. There is something so dynamic about one bite of this. It is constructed in a way that brings pizazz to you palette.
Another fantastic selection includes the Truffle Donnabe with wild mushrooms, cured egg yolk and black truffle. You truly cannot go wrong with any selection, which is not something you can always say about a restaurant in Manhattan.
Lunch is available Wednesday through Sunday with the option for a two-course lunch prix fixe or a la carte dishes like the Salmon served with charred eggplant puree and lotus root chips. Takeout and delivery for both lunch and dinner are available through the Hortus NYC website.
Be sure to visit today for your own meal that will leave you speechless as you dine in this little slice of heaven.