I resisted Hearth for some time, despite the restaurant’s glowing reviews and the many personal recommendations that I received. I looked at the menu several times and was never inspired. Exacerbating my lack of enthusiasm was the restaurant’s location on the Lower East Side, which is a long haul from our apartment on the Upper West Side. After reading a recent review of Hearth’s Apple Cider Doughnuts on Serious Eats, I took another peek at the menu and was compelled (finally) to make a reservation.
Last weekend we went to Hearth with our friends John and Amy and had an excellent meal. It’s hard to find many faults with our meal. Getting nitpicky, the bread was not good and the meal took a very long time and we were left unattended for long stretches (in defense of our affable and competent waitress, we were not in a rush and didn’t convey impatience). Other than those minor tweaks, we had a great dining experience.
Hearth has a very interesting and diverse wine list so we let our waitress select a bottle – I threw out a few adjectives and she produced a recession-friendly bottle of Shinn Estates 2005 Merlot from North Fork (!?), which hit the spot perfectly (and tasted nothing like a merlot). John was the only person at the table who ordered an appetizer – the Foie Gras Torchon, which was quite good.
Everyone was very pleased with their entrées. I don’t think that one particular entrée stood out (I wouldn’t know about the cobia because John finished his entrée without giving me a bite…ahem), but there wasn’t a miss in the bunch.
Here’s what we ordered:
- Roasted Cobia with Prosciutto, Brussels Sprouts, Pomegranate and Wild Mushrooms
- Roasted Skate with Celery Root Rémoulade, Fennel, Oranges and Parsley
- Roasted Niman Ranch Pork Loin with Smoked Pork Belly, Lentils, Butternut Squash and Apples
- Pumpkin Tortelli with Chestnuts, Amaretti and Sage
The highlight of the meal was the sides – Hen of the Woods Mushrooms and Gnocchi. I don’t know what they put in those gnocchi (I’d hazard a guess that it’s crack, or perhaps a lot of butter and parmesan), but this was one of the best things that I have tasted in a while. The serving size is generous and you could make a meal out of the gnocchi (be forewarned that they are rich). The gnocchi are not to be missed if you make a trip to Hearth.
The other item that you should not miss is the Apple Cider Doughnuts with Apple Compote and Maple Whipped Cream. WOW, wow, wow. Perfect. It’s hard to convey how divine these doughnuts are in simple words (the good people at Serious Eats tried so read their review), but just go get an order. We rounded out the doughnuts with two other desserts:
- Baked Pumpkin Mousse with Ginger Ice Cream and Candied Pumpkin Seeds
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Tart with Caramel Ice Cream
The pumpkin mousse was a surprise second favorite for me, but the table was split down the middle between the mousse and the tart for second place. Amy also ordered Vanilla Hot Chocolate with Homemade Marshmallows, which constituted a fourth dessert. The hot chocolate was reminiscent of the thick, delicious version sold at City Bakery.
We left Hearth very full and very content. A fine meal, indeed.