The Musket Room has been on my to try list for a while, and despite having the word “musket” in the name, this place was very vegetarian friendly. It feels like more of a special occasion restaurant, but the ambiance remains relaxed and approachable. An excellent choice for a girls night out, and the service was impeccable from start to finish.
New Zealand native, chef and owner Matt Lambert, combines classic French training with New American dining in this upscale, mid-century modern setting in Nolita. The Musket Room offers flavors that are deeply rooted in New Zealand cuisine, while showcasing its Asian influences. As you might expect, there’s a huge emphasis on local, seasonal flavors and many ingredients are sourced from the restaurant’s beautiful back garden. The Musket Room currently holds one Michelin star, and believe me, it’s very well deserved.
I started the evening with the Elizabeth Street Mara ($15), which was a delicious blend of vodka, Combier rose, cucumber, basil, and lemon. It’s essentially summer in a glass. Refreshing and delicious. I later moved on to a Gruner Veltliner to go with my meal.
After going back and forth between the a la carte menu and tasting menus for quite a while, we decided to go with the tasting menu. At $75, 6-courses at a Michelin star restaurant is quite a steal. Felicia and Alice even were momentarily tempted by the vegetarian tasting menu before settling on the regular tasting menu.
As soon as I mentioned I’m vegetarian, our server made sure no meat came anywhere close to my plate. She even apologized when someone else almost accidentally served me the cheddar and bacon bread. Oh, and I should mention that the sour dough bread was really good. It’s rare for me to get really excited about bread and butter! I wanted more, but didn’t want to fill up on carbs before the real food came out.
Our first course, the broccoli soup with parsley oil. I make broccoli soup all the time, but my soup doesn’t come anywhere close to this stuff. The parsley oil adds a wonderful complexity. The non-veggie menu had a beef cheek croquette in the soup, and I wish the vegetarian version had something (maybe fried onions?) to give it an extra little oomph. Either way, it was tasty, and I wish I didn’t just have this sad, blurry photo.
The second course was beets with goat cheese and pistachio. Three flavors and textures that complement each other so well. Beautifully presented. The beet foam is such a stunning bright red color. Felicia mentioned that she was kind of jealous that this dish looked was prettier than the non-veggie course (scallops and cauliflower puree).
Next up, the mushroom custard with raw mushrooms, herbs, and truffle. Disclaimer: this dish was the reason I wanted to come here, and it was everything I dreamed of and more. Creamy, rich, and earthy… almost sinful. This dish alone is a good enough reason to come back. The non-veggie course was quail with blackberries.
Another dish I’ve been excited to try was the tofu gnocchi with tomato dashi, bok choy, and mushrooms. The broth was very aromatic, and I loved the brightness and acidity from the tomatoes. Every component in this dish was delightful, and the tofu gnocchi has a bouncy pillow-like texture, but melts in your mouth. I was a VERY happy vegetarian. The non-veggie entree was a lamb dish with grains, sunflower, and mint.
At this point, I was thoroughly impressed with everything that had been put in front of me, then I realized there were two more courses to go! The palate cleanser for both tasting menus consisted of a cranberry and lime sorbet. Mmm, tasty and refreshing.
And finally, carrot cake with curd and chai for dessert. I don’t think I would ever choose to order carrot cake, but this cake may have won me over. The chai was especially yummy with the cake, and I appreciate the overall sweetness was subtle.
Our entire meal lasted almost 3 hours. Come here and catch up with friends! As we were leaving, I saw chef Matt Lambert emerge from the kitchen to say hello to diners. We each went home with a box of treats and a copy of the tasting menu with a wax seal.
Every dish was absolutely fantastic, and I highly recommend The Musket Room if you’re looking for a Michelin star experience under $100. My last Michelin experience was Kajitsu, and I realize that I shouldn’t compare the two directly because the cuisine is so different, but my Musket Room experience was at a completely different level. I know I will be coming back for the mushroom custard and the tofu gnocchi!