Saturday, January 29, 2011

At Vermilion

Date Night must be balanced out by Ladies Night, and so the girls and I made our own Restaurant Week plans at At Vermilion, an Indian-Latin fusion resto in Midtown East.

The upstairs dining room is decorated with oversized black and white portraits on the wall and outfitted with modern, minimalist dining furniture- it's a pretty setting, but seems typical of fusion places. I always thought Latin and Indian flavors were a winning combo, borrowing similar spices are herbs, like cumin and cilantro, and complementary flavors, like tamarind and ancho chili. Here, you'll find it in both the food and the drinks, like the pear-chili vodka cocktail I enjoyed.

Despite the veg-friendliness of Indian cuisine and the flavorful vegetarian options you'll sometimes find in Latin cuisine, At Vermilion doesn't actually have any vegetarian entrees on their regular menu, which seemed pretty shocking to me. I was relieved when I found out that they had one veggie option for each course, but I couldn't understand why their veggie entree (heart of palm and paneer paella) wouldn't have been on the regular menu. I'd barely put my drink order in before realizing that I would never be coming back here.

Which, actually, is all well and good. I started with the artichoke fritters- fried artichoke hearts, served in a banana leaf- and though the fritters themselves were just as described and nothing more, they arrived with a chili dipping sauce that added some needed zest to the artichokes. My entree, the paella with heart of palm, was served in a thick ancho chili sauce with sauteed onions and paneer over basmati rice. More of a Latin-style curry than a paella, it was pleasantly spicy. I'm sure they chose to add hearts of palm to the dish to fancy it up, but still, I'd have preferred if they used a different vegetable, as poaching trees for hearts of palm has driven the plant to near extinction in parts South America- a dangerous delicacy! The desire to make the dish more upscale than it was didn't pay off- heart of palm seemed so out of place and overwhelmed by the ancho chilies. Dessert was a more successful fusion- mango flan with coconut foam and a crust of pink peppercorns. Light, tropical,  delicious, and quickly devoured! I wished the elements of the rest of the meal came together so well!

I imagine other items on the menu are hit or miss as well, and in a city with some of the best Indian food and Latin food one could find, a restaurant that can't do either cuisine well enough doesn't warrant a return visit, especially when obvious vegetarian possibilities are completely overlooked on the regular menu.

However, I'd say if you were near the Grand Central area anyway, their lively, flavorful cocktails are perfect for dealing with the fusion of cranky, overworked personalities you'll find on your train ride back home.


At Vermilion, 480 Lexington Avenue at E. 46th Street, 212-871-6600

1 comment:

Kristi said...

I hope you'll come by and share one of your recipes at one of my blog party link-ups soon. I have two this week. Today's Sunday Brunch shares breakfast, brunch and lunch recipes HERE.

For Vegan/Meatless Mondays we'll be sharing Meatless Mains. You can see more information about that party, HERE.

Hope to see you there soon!

Kristi @
Veggie Converter