I was supposed to work out, that was plan, honestly it was from the second I woke up. I ended up at No. 9 Park, Barbara Lynch’s flagship restaurant instead. A far cry from the gym but far more tasty and a lot less energy beyond choosing temptingly delicious dishes to enjoy.
Seated at the bar waiting for my friend Stacey to arrive, yes I twisted her arm also, I glanced through the wine list. I shared my not going to gym secret with the bartender, the friendliest of people, and she secretly smiled back and said she would not tell a soul. I believed her.
My evening started with a wonderful summery Rosé, apparently an exciting find by the Sommelier, while I talked more with the incredibly knowledgeable bar staff. I hadn’t been to No. 9 inyears and was hoping things had not changed and I would be as equally excited about my experience as I had been in the distant past. I was.
The bar area is cool and warm at the same time. Immaculately dressed waitstaff work their way around the restaurant as they wait for patrons to arrive. The sage green walls give the restaurant an overall warmth and there is a wonderful charm and coziness to No. 9, which takes away any stuffiness people think this place may have.
The hostess came over to me to see if I had a reservation. I told her I did not and would dine at the bar. She left with a friendly and genuine smile telling me to enjoy my dinner. Reservations can sometimes be tough to get at No. 9.
Stacey arrived and ordered the same Rosé while we both perused the menu. Our initial thoughts were to be healthy, seeing as we missed the gym. That was definitely not going to happen at No. 9, however we did choose (almost) wisely. There is an option of a three-course, $69/person, which can also be a la carte or a seven-course chef tasting at $117/person. There is also an additional menu exclusive to the bar with enticing choices. We picked the three-course and knew we were in for a filling and fabulous Tuesday evening.
I started with the Heirloom Tomato Salad. A gorgeous plate of color with tantalizing sweetness of heirloom tomatoes, bursts of pickled cucumber and tiny creamy bites of cheese with just the right amount of minty freshness. This was summer on a plate and I felt a somewhat non-guilty start.
Stacey started with a mix of six oysters from the East and West Coast. She said they were wonderful and juicy.
A little top up of Rosé and on to our entrées. We both decided on fish dishes. I thoroughly enjoyed the Rhode Island Striped Bass. A perfect combination of meaty beautiful, white buttery fish with crunchy vegetables and sweet tomatoes in a light broth.
Stacey picked the Native Hake, which she said was good but not as exciting as she expected. She did love the large chunks of lobster, which she said she could have eaten a plate of.
I went all out on my dessert. I figured I was so far down the rabbit hole I might as well enjoy it so I opted for what looked like the most decadent of desserts on the menu. The Milk Chocolate Parfait was a fantastic work of art. I am not sure I have tasted ice-cream so creamy. It worked in harmony with the slightly salted crumb and sticky sweet caramelized bananas.
Stacey, more sensibly picked the trio of ice-creams of mint, graham cracker and ginger. All were tasty but she did say the ginger one tasted like a facial. I am not exactly sure what that means but it was funny.
There is a thrilling elegance to dining at No. 9, which makes you feel like you are enjoying an experience, rather than just a meal. You feel it the moment you walk in from the hosts to the bartenders to the servers delivering your plates. Our bartender was attentive and friendly throughout the whole time, making our time there the loveliest of Tuesday evenings.
I will add one piece that put me off a little. The guy in the t-shirt covered in smelly sweat, wearing tevas and a baseball hat didn’t add to the elegance of the bar. I know there is a casual feel to the bar area, but I don’t think that should come from patrons not caring about their appearance. Jeans fine, baseball hats and sweaty t-shirts no. Maybe I am old-fashioned and a bit stuffy myself, but I am still funny about people wearing baseball hats in a dining establishment that is not a sports bar. If I may say, there should still be a dress code to some restaurants and I feel No. 9 should be one of them even if it is at the bar. I will now get off my soap box.
I still love No. 9 Park!