King's Carriage House | 251 E 82nd St. (off 2nd Ave.) | 212.734.5490 | www.kingscarriagehouse.com
OVER FIFTEEN YEARS ago, I worked as a waiter at a very popular Upper East Side restaurant that boasted a very talented and enthusiastic young chef. That was back when being a chef wasn't nearly the popular career choice as it is now. She once made let me watch her make a dish that pretty much was a mini pasta shell casserole, with the shells stirred with a ricotta, parmesan, garlic, Italian herb, and heavy cream mixture, then topped with marinara sauce and slices of fresh mozzarella. The dish was of a simple, somewhat rustic elegance, a concept that was foreign to me at the time. And, of course, it tasted great.
That was one of the very first uncommon recipes that I learned how to recreate, and I did it often. To this day, it is a dish I make at least once a season, impressing a very many dinner guests. The chef who taught me that dish was a young lady named Liz King—whose whole family I was fortunate to meet and meet often—and she eventually left that restaurant to open up a quaint one of her own just a few blocks away. It remains to this day and is called King's Carriage House.
I hadn't been in for a meal in quite a while, due to efforts to try everything new. But, after walking by it almost every other day running random errands, I decided it was time to pay my old friend—and her cooking—a long overdue visit.
The interior still had the same old manor charm, situated in a two level townhouse and divided into three dining rooms, that actually feel like "rooms", and not just dining "areas". I was sat in the yellow room, sweetly, yet with no irony, adorned with homey wall hanging, pictures, and various kchotchkes,and with tables dressed for a formal repast.
They offer a prix fix dinner menu at about 50 bucks; I was in for the $20 prix fixe lunch, which comes with salad or soup of the day and an entrée. I started with the soup of the day, a chilled pea soup with chive oil, which came with a nice, warm, country grain bread.
Great soup, it was fresh, bright, rich, and yet light, the chive oil highlighting the sweet, earthy properties of peas.
For my entrée (one of seven offered for lunch), I ordered the grilled duck breast with a bacon, spinach, sweet potato hash and cassis vinaigrette.
An exquisite dish, in both presentation and taste. The medium rare duck was succulent, tasty, with the proper amount of "game" without any of the "funk".(That's how I like to put it.) The sweet but not cloying cassis vinaigrette complimenting the meat without overwhelming it, and hefted nicely by the flavorful and aromatic sweet potato hash. The subtle, herbal notes in the cooked spinach rounding out the dish quite nicely.
I don't usually get to eat like this, but look forward to doing so more often. And I highly recommend that you do too. Not just for the food, the space is perfect for any kind of special event or function, from relationship-defining third dates to Mother's Day treats to rehearsal dinners, etc. The two other rooms offer similar formal comforts.
It is a welcome respite into an old friend's country home that takes its guests out of an urban state of mind for a welcome, if too short, spell. As I left, sated and relaxed, I made sure to take in the last few visuals of my brief but thoroughly enjoyable vacation
Bun Apple Tea!
King's Carriage House | 251 E 82nd St (off 2nd Ave.) | 212.734.5490 | www.kingscarriagehouse.com