Ken & Cook Restaurant & Bar located on Kenmare Street in New York City, owned by Artan Gjoni and Chef Richard Diamonte, is a culinary hotspot in Nolita where the focus is on Contemporary American cuisine. The ambience evokes a Parisian brasserie, and the menu shows the genius and technique of Chef Richard Diamonte, who honed his culinary teeth working at Jean-Georges' restaurants for ten years before venturing out to open Ken & Cook Restaurant & Bar.
Speaking with Chef Richard Diamonte before having dinner at the restaurant in late April 2013 one year after the restaurant opened, Edward F. Nesta inquired about the origin of the name, Ken & Cook. The answer was creative, yet simple, Ken, taken from Kenmare Street, and Cook for what they do at the restaurant. So is their approach to dining, creative and technically skillful cuisine, attentive service, and an invitingly casual, comfortable ambience, are part of the reason for its success, which on the night we dined there, drew clientele to the restaurant the way a candle draws moths to a flame.
Chef Richard Diamonte and Debra Argen
Although located in the Nolita (North of Little Italy) neighborhood of New York City, the ambience evokes Paris with its oyster raw bar, white brick walls, white tin ceiling, bentwood chairs with leather seats flanking gold round tables, and square wood tables with substantial decorative bases that are simply dressed with brown craft paper. Hanging white ball lights illuminate, votive candles set in amber glass holders bask patrons in a warm glow, and the scared wood floors make you wish they could share stories from bygone years.
Ken & Cook Restaurant & Bar
The well-stocked bar features an interesting cocktail menu. There is an extensive wine list ranging from every day wines to celebratory ones, including such prestigious labels as Krug Brut Rose and Louis Roederer "Cristal" 2004, as well as offer wines by the glass, perfect for wine pairing dinners.
Ken & Cook - Raw Bar
We began our evening with the beet salad, an elegant presentation of a mélange of baby beets - red, orange, and pink, roasted and pickled, with thinly sliced radishes, scattered pistachios, and mache, with a line of housemade ricotta piped onto the plate. Visually pleasing, it delivered on the palate with its depth of flavors, sweet, pickled, bitter mache, creamy ricotta, spicy radish, with the pistachios adding a bit of saltiness and crunch, accompanied by still warm from the oven batards (miniature baguettes) and a bowl of extra virgin olive oil. This course paired well with the Domaine de la Petite Cassagne, Costieres de Nimes Rose, 2012, from Provence, France, with its crisp, slight strawberry fruitiness on the nose and palate that finished with slate and mineral notes.
Mélange of Baby Beets
For our next course, there was delicately grilled baby squid served on a bed of sliced fingerling potatoes on mint and yogurt sauce, with mache, fried shallots, and thinly sliced chili that added a dash of color and bite. Paired with my "old friend," Veuve Cliquot Brut, NV, from Reims-France, it made for a memorable dining experience.
Grilled Baby Squid
We continued with housemade fettuccine made from organic eggs, which were delectable ribbons of al dente pasta prepared with pesto, spring peas, fava beans, mint, and generously topped with shaved parmesan that gently melted from the warmth of the pasta. Domaine Fichet "Terroir de Burgy," chardonnay, Macon Villages, 2010, from the burgundy region of France made for an admirable companion.
Next in the pairing, was a jumbo scallop, pan seared to perfection, presented on a bed of cannellini beans and leeks, in a saffron broth, paired with Laurent Gerard Sancerre La Foret des Dames Reserve Vieilles Vignes, 2011, from Loire, France. This was another memorable tasting, simple, yet elegant, that showed the versatility of Chef Richard Diamonte's style.
Pan Seared Jumbo Scallop
Edward and I parted ways for our next two courses, for him there was a dream of a course with fork tender, melt-in-your-mouth short rib braised for several hours in red wine, presented on a bed of fingerling potatoes that were boiled, smashed, sautéed in a pan, accompanied with horseradish crème and topped with sautéed Swiss chard. Bandwagon Pinot Noir 2010, from Monterey, California proved a worthy companion for this stellar creation.
Braised Short Rib
For me there was buttery and delicate red snapper presented with crispy skin, with an artistic swirl of carrot puree on the plate, and accompanied with baby carrots - orange, white, and purple, and white and purple pearl onions, which also paired well with the Pinot Noir.
Our gastronomic evening deliciously concluded with hot-from-the-oven rhubarb and strawberry crumble served in a miniature black cast iron skillet topped a generous scoop of strawberry ice cream for Edward. I had the cheesecake, a deliciously light creation flavored with lemon and lime, topped with filleted grapefruit and orange, splashed with elderflower syrup, and attractively accessorized with spun sugar. Gérard Bertrand Banyuls 2008, from the South of France, with lovely dried cherry, spice, and orange peel notes on the nose and on the finish, was the last pairing wine of the evening.
Rhubarb and Strawberry Crumble
Ken & Cook Restaurant & Bar has the perfect combination of culinary excellence, attentive and knowledgeable wait staff, and a comfortable, welcoming ambience.
Chef Richard Diamonte
The restaurant serves Lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30 am until 3:00 pm, Late Lunch on Saturday and Sunday from 3:00 pm until 6:00 pm, Brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 am until 4:00 pm, Dinner Sunday through Thursday from 5:30 pm until 12:00 am, and on Friday and Saturday from 5:30 pm until 1:00 am.
Ken & Cook Restaurant & Bar
Read Chefs' Recipes for an interview with Chef Richard Diamonte where he shares his culinary vision and a few wonderful recipes from Ken & Cook Restaurant & Bar.
Ken & Cook Restaurant & Bar
19 Kenmare Street (at the corner of Elizabeth and Kenmare)
New York, New York 10012
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