Monday, December 21, 2009

Hundred Acres

For years I stayed away from chicken dishes at restaurants. It's simply the most practical dish to cook at home and so when eating out, it was always the easiest option to eliminate. But, with the rise of New American restaurants, it's been harder and harder to look past the many enticing poultry dishes. And, as much as I do cook chicken at home, roasting a chicken for one doesn't exactly fall under the easy or practical category. However, as the cold has taken over, my cravings for roasted chicken have been close to impossible to ignore. And, much to my surprise, I've strayed from the search for the latest burger, pizza or homemade pasta. This winter, I have been on the hunt for roasted chicken.

After one of the warmest, most festive meals at Hundred Acres, I am proud to report a chicken dish that truly stands out in my mind. I have raved in the past over the brunch at this Soho offshoot of Five Points and Cookshop, but it's time I give the dinner menu some well-deserved attention. While the chicken more than satisfied my cravings, the rest of the meal was a true comfort on a cold winter's night. Now, it would be unfair for me to go on without mentioning their butter. Forget the fact that basically everything on this menu is hearty and you should probably be saving up, their homemade butter is heavenly. I do recommend starting to eat it as you know that your appetizers might soon arrive - otherwise, you really might find yourself devouring the entire loaf of bread and serving of butter. It's just that good.

Regardless of your butter indulgence, you do want to enjoy a starter or two. If you are sharing, I recommend the grilled flatbread with crescenza cheese, charred red onions and chili-rosemary oil. The chili oil really brings this dish to life. And, you will find it nearly impossible to pass up the cauliflower and Brussels sprout gratin served with parsleyed breadcrumbs. Do not miss out on the roasted parsnip and turnip soup if it is on the menu. It would be an excellent prelude to the spit-roasted Amish chicken served with roasted sweet potatoes, dried fruit compote, and walnut butter. Yes, that is the dish of honor that makes me want to stop cooking chicken at home altogether and just eat it out at every chance possible. The chicken was perfectly roasted and seasoned with hearty, fall ingredients. If you are still of the mindset that eating chicken while dining out is not for you, the chef makes an excellent burger of pasture-raised beef served with Vermont white cheddar, vidalia onion mayonnaise, and fries. And for a slightly less hearty, but still rich with flavor option, I recommend the Block Island swordfish prepared with hummus, garlic braised escarole and dried fig anchoiade.

After nearly consuming a full baby chicken, I somehow found a way to convince myself that chicken (even when rubbed in walnut butter), is still a healthy option - making way and excuse for the dessert menu. I'll also argue that when appetizers and main courses are that well prepared, it would be an insult to the chef not to continue indulging. And so we cleared one more plate - one covered with vanilla bread pudding topped with caramel ice cream. I was quickly reminded of their French toast, one of my favorites of their many delicious brunch items. Although, Hundred Acres is certainly no longer just a brunch spot in my mind. The hunt for the roasted chicken is over - and I am pleased to report it was never too far from my own backyard.

Merry Merry and Happy Happy!! I will see you in 2010!

Hundred Acres
38 MacDougal Street
New York, NY 100
(212) 475-7500

FOOD RATING (Out of 5):