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CLOSED: Restaurant Week: Dinner at Country

Country was never on my “top 10 must try restaurants” list, but it was certainly a place that I eventually wanted to check out. Located in The Carlton Hotel, Country has one of the city’s most attractive spaces: Creamy white walls, mahogany wood accents and crystal chandeliers (just to name a few).

To celebrate the end of NYC Restaurant Week, Linda and I decided to meet at Country for a $35 prix-fixe dinner. Though we were seated immediately, our table’s proximity to the bar made for a bit more noise than I would have preferred. After a tumultuous evening the night before, I was too tired to ask to be reseated in a quieter space. Miraculously, what initially seemed like deafening noise subsided the moment Linda and I sat down.

We each traded a glass of wine or fancy cocktail for a non-alcoholic beverage. When Linda’s iced tea arrived, we were fascinated to see that, instead of using normal ice cubes, the frozen spheres were “iced tea ice cubes.” Typically accompanied by an assorted sugar/sweetener tray, a small glass of homemade simple syrup was sent along side the iced tea. We both appreciated the restaurant’s attention to creativity and thinking “outside of the box.” Additionally, my fresh-squeezed lemonade was quickly moving up my “top glasses in the city” ranking after each delicious sip.

For my meal, I chose to begin with the cauliflower panna cotta followed by the crispy buttermilk chicken, and finally the chocolate cake.

The cauliflower panna cotta, served with a petite salad of micro greens, resembled a mini dessert flan/crème de caramel. I found the dish rather tasteless, bland and cold with a consistency similar to under-set Jell-O. The greens, however, added a nice texture.
Two sections of pan fried buttermilk chicken breasts sat atop diced potatoes with Serrano ham in a shallow pool of chicken jus. The bird was perfectly cooked, flavorful and tender. I was under whelmed by what appeared to be pre-packaged breakfast potatoes. Overall, the dish was good, with the exception of the starch.

My dessert plate included a molten chocolate cake and a scoop of coffee ice cream, separated by a perfect line of cherry compote. I would have preferred the homemade vanilla bean ice cream accompaniment I had with my chocolate cake at Nougatine, but the essence of coffee paired nicely with the dark fruit. The cake itself was decent, though lukewarm and not made with, what I assumed was very high quality chocolate. After a similar dessert at Nougatine, I’ve become biased toward imperfect competitors.

The service, ambiance, and beverages at Country were fantastic. I feel that the menu is competitive, modern and looks great on paper. With more attention to detail and taste, and an attempt to move away from the use Sysco products (i.e. the frozen breakfast potatoes), I am confident that Country would find greater longevity in the NY dining scene. I hope to return for brunch in the near future.

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