review

Contra

We all show our love and affection for others in different ways. For some, it may be creating a piece of art or buying somebody a meaningful gift. For me, it’s food.

If I want to show you how much I care about you, I may bake you cookies or take you out for a nice dinner. The love, time, care and diligence that goes into creating food for another person is my way of using my passion to show my passion for somebody.

So when somebody takes me out to eat or cooks for me, it means a lot.

I’m new to Manhattan but I’m so fortunate to have friends and family in the city. Most of my family is in New Jersey, but I do have an aunt who lives in Manhattan. She has been kind enough to call and check in on me, and also take me out to eat every so often.

We went out to eat at one of her new favorite restaurants – Contra. They serve contemporary New York cuisine derived from local and seasonal ingredients. The menu, which changes very often, can only be described as unique, sophisticated and daring. When you dine with Contra, you’re given a pre-set six course meal with the option of adding bread and wine. An abbreviated version is available at the bar, as well.

The first dish was brought out to us – blueberry, nasturtium and sorrel. Two of the main ingredients, unfamiliar to me, makde this starting dish much more than your typical salad. This dish was tangy, creamy and refreshing all at the same time.

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While we waited for the next course, we sipped on Yvon Metras Fleurie, a Beaujolais wine, and munched on some of the bread we added to our meal. I broke the bread, hearing it crack while I watched the steam escape from the soft and warm interior, and felt the freshness of its warm my hands. I followed up my nibbles of bread with sips of wine, which had slight tastes of carbonation that went against the slightly sweet notes.

The next course served was clam, agretti and potato. At first glance, I couldn’t seem to identify where the clams were. As I toke my first bite, I was surprised to taste something warm, salty, a bit sour and creamy. The agretti on top provided a slight crunch to the soft dish. This was one of my favorite dishes of the evening. I have to note, I took a picture of this dish but I believe it was accidentally deleted. My apologies.

Swordfish, seaweed and tomato was the next meal brought out to us. This was the first of the entrees, which I liked because fish is lighter than heavy, robust red meat. The swordfish was very tender and ever so slightly cooked. I prefer my fish on the rarer side so this was divine. The tomato provided a nice acidity, but I didn’t care for the powdery sprinkles of seaweed – it reminded me of the residue at the bottom of a Kombucha bottle.

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Our second entree was veal with onions and hay. Honestly, I was a bit skeptical of the idea of hay in my meal, but I didn’t even notice it. The veal was cooked to perfection and was tender. I enjoyed the red berries in this dish because it provided a nice pop of freshness. This course was my second favorite of the night, although it was a very close second.

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We were served two desserts, and the first was elderflower, pistachio and milk. At first, it appeared to look like shaved ice, but it was so much more than that. I found this dish to be refreshing, light, nutty and creamy. Overall, this was my favorite course. It was so refreshing and light that I didn’t even feel bad about eating two desserts.

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To finish off the experience, we ended with a dessert comprised of peaches and herbs. This dish was a peach ice cream and the white discs on top reminded me of mints. Overall, this course was sweet, minty and refreshing. Although it was good, I preferred the first dessert.

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I was very impressed by my dining experience at Contra. To be completely honest, this may have been one of the most upscale dining restaurants I have ever been to. The food was very unique, timed well with how it was brought out, and it was incomparable to anything I’ve had before. The contemporary design in food matches the contemporary decor of the establishment. And as you may have guessed, the prices were what you would assume for such an upscale restaurant. I understand why my aunt said it’s one of her favorite restaurants, and I’m grateful she would take me out to dinner there.

 

Contra

138 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002

212-466-4633

Tues-Sun 6:00 PM-10:00 PM

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