Narcissa is a farm-to-table New American restaurant in an inviting space on the first floor of The Standard in East Village. After I visited Dovetail earlier this year, Narcissa, another John Fraser restaurant, immediately went on my “to try” list. I think of Dovetail as fine dining with a capital “F”, while Narcissa offers similarly elegant, refined cuisine in a more casual, relaxed setting.
Despite being named after a cow from a Hudson Valley farm, Narcissa is quite vegetarian friendly. Chef John Fraser sure knows how to work magic with vegetables. Every bite is wonderfully rich and full flavored. I visited for dinner on a Monday evening with Ling. Food brings people together, and it was great to bond with a new foodie friend over a delicious meal.
We were seated at the bar, right in front of the appetizers station. The main dining room was very noisy, but the bar was much more comfortable. I really enjoyed watching the cooks prepare the beets and gnocchi throughout the evening. It’s nice that they space each party out along the bar, so you don’t feel like you’re intruding the parties on either side of yours.
I ordered the In the Tall Grass cocktail ($14). Cucumber, vodka, apple, champagne, grapefruit, and riesling. Very refreshing and light in flavor. I highly recommend it for summer.
I’ve read a bit about Narcissa’s beets and was really looking forward to trying this dish. Rotisserie-crisped beets ($15) with bulgur salad, apples, and creamed horseradish. The beets are slow roasted for about 5 hours, then grilled, halved, and crushed. Loved the contrast between the charred crust and the soft interior. The salad was light and complementary.
Narcissa strikes me as a place that would have a killer gnocchi, and I’m glad we also shared the potato gnocchi ($16) with morel mushrooms, asparagus, and parmesan. Amazingly light and fluffy with perfectly golden exteriors. Don’t think it needed quite so much sauce, but the sauce sure was tasty. We shared the half portion, but I would happily eat the full version myself.
Ling ordered the steamed bass ($29), which came with a fragrant French curry broth, lentils, and toasted almonds. Looked like a lovely, colorful spring dish.
After years of watching beef wellingtons on Hell’s Kitchen, you have no idea how delighted I was to learn of John Fraser’s signature carrots wellington! The carrots wellington ($24) is artfully plated with bluefoot mushrooms, sunchokes, gremolata, baby leeks, and pearl onions. Possibly the most interesting and creative dish I’ve had this year.
The roasted carrots were tender, and surprisingly not that caramelized, but the flavors were balanced within the dish. The flaky puff pastry was coated with a rich espresso and walnut crumble. I couldn’t figure out what this crumble was made of until I looked it up later at home. The sunchoke puree was smooth and creamy. The mushrooms were earthy and chewy.
Last, but not least… the beautiful rhubarb-hibiscus pavlova ($9) with chamomile-lavender meringue and viognier granite! This was almost too pretty to eat. I enjoyed how the tart rhubarb was balanced by the sweet hibiscus. Lots of fresh, floral flavors. Everything melts in your mouth. This looks like it came right out of your garden. There’s even a blue candy worm!