Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Check in: Cookshop

When Cookshop first opened on Tenth Avenue "market to table" was just starting to enter the food vernacular and the dinning options on the far west side of Chelsea were extremely limited. This was before The Highline transformed the neighborhood. My daughters were taking ice skating lessons at Chelsea Piers at the time so we found ourselves looking for a decent place to have lunch on the far west side of Manhattan on Saturdays. Cookshop was a welcome find.

It had been some time since I had been back to Cookshop (we haven't had weekend activities at Chelsea Piers in a while) so when I decided to treat myself to a birthday stroll on the Highline I stopped in for lunch at Cookshop.

Cookshop is located on the corner of 20th Street and Tenth Avenue. It is a big, bright room, lit up at midday by the sun streaming in through the enormous windows lining 10th Avenue. It is a warm, attractive room that finds a nice middle ground between the rustic farmhouse of "market to table" restaurants and the sleek modern look of a lot of newer restaurants that can leave you feeling a bit cold. The staff was welcoming and the food was as good as I remembered.

Cookshop really does practice what it preaches. Seasonal, sustainable and farm fresh are their mission statement but they deliver it with a smile and a sense of joy. No preaching, just good food. Here is what I had:

The End of Summer Crush





Muddled cucumber and cilantro with fresh lime juice and club soda. Sweet, sour and sharp, the Crush awakens the senses and refreshes at the same time. I am definitely going to try to recreate this at home.


One of the telltale signs of a great restaurant is attention to the little things. Like bread and butter on the table before the meal.





Lovely in presentation, delicious in execution. Fresh baked bread with creamery butter and salt. Even though both of the items I ordered for lunch had bread as an ingredient I couldn't help myself. Neither should you.


For lunch I went with what seemed like an old favorite. Tomato soup and grilled cheese. It was as far from a can of Campbell's soup and grilled American cheese as you can get.

Sour Dough Bread Soup




With tomato-cheese panade. I asked my waiter to explain what exactly this dish was. He was at a loss. I asked two other people to explain it as well. The all agreed it was delicious but couldn't quite explain it. I will try to give it a shot.

You have just had a big bowl of pasta that featured a delicious marinara bursting with spice and tomato.  You have purposefully saved a lot of the sauce for the end so you can scoop it up in spoonfuls and with chunks of bread. It is now saturated with pieces of bread and cheese so that it is a thick mess. As you take bite after bite and wipe the bowl clean with the last bit of bread you smile and congratulate yourself on being so smart. That is what this soup is. And it is good.


Griddled Cheese




Goot Essa cheddar, peaches, candied pecans, arugula and whole grain mustard, toasted. It sounds wacky. It is wacky. It probably shouldn't work, but it does. The various ingredients don't mingle. Instead they stand their ground, butting up against each other. It is a riot of flavors and textures and messy fun to eat.

After my lunch I took a walk on the Highline. It is one of the great additions to New York City and a reminder that every once in a while we manage to get things right. It has transformed the neighborhoods it runs through and acts as a magnet for the area. It got me back to Cookshop after a long absence and I am grateful.


Cookshop - 156 10th Avenue at 20th Street - www.cookshopny.com





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