If it were possible to apply to be a regular at a restaurant, I'd submit a full application to 10 Downing immediately. My statement of purpose would read: 10 Downing simply makes me smile. And, if it were possible to actually be a regular after only one meal, then call me the new 10 Downing regular. I could eat here almost any night of the week, with any group of friends, and in any kind of mood. As you walk in the restaurant through the Downing Street entrance, you may feel as though you have truly crossed the Atlantic. While first impression takes you straight to London through the doors of the residence of Gordon Brown, a glance at the menu transports you even further to more exotic, Mediterranean lands.
But, instead of heading straight for the food, I suggest that you take a moment and enjoy the setting. While the walls are covered in all sorts of fascinating artwork, I really mean, take advantage of the ample bar. You will have plenty of time to absorb all of the art throughout the course of dinner. Despite a missing cocktail list (liquor isn't served at the restaurant), you will discover an extensive beer and wine list, happily distracting and entertaining all parties seated at or standing nearby the bar. On a Thursday or a weekend, let the bar be a bar - have a few and wait for a table. But, on a weeknight, I imagine myself seated at the bar, enjoying a glass of wine and sharing a few appetizers and small plates. The food menu really is ideal for that.
10 Downing's menu appeals to me in so many ways. In addition to the typical appetizer and entree sections, they seemed to have created extra categories perfectly suited to my tastes - "for sharing," pastas (in half and whole portions), and sides. Even when dining with just one other person, it is pretty easy to hit up nearly all sections while not going completely overboard. And, to encourage diners to confidently order at least several plates, the menu quotes Miss Piggy's noble words, "Never eat more than you can lift." At a restaurant like 10 Downing, this is a motto to live by - reminding me of the real reason for lifting weights at the gym at the end of a long day!
Since I was already loving the Friday night vibe before sitting down to our table, I knew this would be a place where I had to make the most of my order. We ended up sharing several starters, a pasta, and a side. All were delicious, and since I have declared myself a regular, I now need to go back and try a few entrees as well. Both the braised beets with red grapefruit and bayley hazen blue cheese and the marinated Brussels sprouts with anchovy vinaigrette, soft poached egg and parmesan are great fresh salads to start with. But, my favorite appetizer was the ocean trout tartar served with mustard seeds, chorizo oil, pine nuts and quail egg. This is a must as the flavors come together smoothly and finish with the perfect amount of spice. We also ordered a special of the evening - crispy prawns - served in a copper pot as an upscale version of peel-and-eat shrimp. The bold flavors, yet simplicity of this dish were a true testament to one of my favorite kinds of traditional southern fare. For a heartier option, order the gnocchi with wild mushrooms butternut squash, cavolo nero & sardinian sheep cheese. These truly melt in your mouth - and may give your arm muscles a run for the money! To round out any meal, a nice, substantial side dish is always a plus. I recommend the extremely flavorful roasted Brussels Sprouts and guanciale (pork jowls).
So, to get back to my original mission: how to become an instant regular at 10 Downing. After looking around the room and noticing so many content, smiling diners, I realized that it's probably not all that hard to do. I think I'll take the advice of a certain successful, celebrity pig. Now's the time to challenge my biceps and frequent 10 Downing until they start to feel sore!
10 Downing St.
New York, NY 10014
Phone: (212) 255-0300
FOOD RATING (Out of 5):