Monday, March 16, 2009
Hidden Gem in Fort Greene
Restaurant Name: iCi Restaurant
Location: 246 DeKalb Avenue, Fort Greene, Brooklyn
We were first introduced to iCi Restaurant by our good friends Boulos and Sayumi who held their wedding reception in the restaurant's private dining room. Wedding reception food can often be uninspired and uninspiring, but both Boulos and Sayumi have great taste in food, so I was looking forward to trying iCi.
The private dining venue is very simple and elegant, which also aptly describes the cuisine at iCi. The wedding guests were offered two choices for each of three courses - truffled mushroom bisque or an arugula & shaved parmesan salad, seared skate wing or braised short ribs, and yogurt panna cotta or an intense chocolate dessert (my only clear memory of this dessert was trying to steal as much of it as possible off my husband's plate before he ate it all). Perhaps the thing that stood out the most was the exceptional freshness of all the ingredients. The arugula was bright and tender, the skate melted on your tongue.
We were impressed enough with the wedding reception to want to go back to iCi for dinner. So this last weekend we took advantage of slightly warmer weather and walked over to Fort Greene to meet our friends for a Sunday supper. The dinner menu at iCi is a $25 fixed price menu (3 choices for each of 3 courses). Again, my husband and I split the choices to try several dishes. He started with the spicy fish chowder, which was rich and creamy and redolent of curry. Too my tastes, it was a little too fishy. I had the house-cured salmon served with caper creme fraiche, arugula salad and toast points. This was a great marriage of flavors, with the tang of the cream offsetting the richness of the fish and the arugula lightening and brightening each bite.
For our entrees, my husband had the sauteed Spanish mackerel with winter vegetables and I had the lamb ragu served over tagliatelle pasta. The latter dish was particularly memorable. The ragu was rich and meaty and the pasta was cooked just al dente. The sauce seemed light but I suspect some cream or butter was at work behind the scenes to create a silky coating for each strand of pasta. Dessert was the least inspired of the three courses - an apple crumble for me (excellent flavor but the texture was somewhat mushy) and a 7-layer brownie for Sid (rich, yet a little dry).
For $25, this meal was not only a steal but also allowed for plenty of wine. The service was attentive but not hovering - we were allowed to eat in a relaxed manner and were never rushed.
I look forward to returning when the weather turns fine and eating in their garden out back.