NEW YORK—The moment the mini, hand-shaped crusted baguette sat on my little plate, I knew I was in for a treat. It seems like a simple thing to make, but it requires a special flour and a 24-hour fermentation. It’s a reminder of my endless fascination with New York restaurants: always innovative and eager to please guests. The Fourth is a perfect example.
Attached to the new Hyatt at Union Square but not part of it, The Fourth serves an American interpretation of European brasserie cuisine.
I was fascinated by the high ceilings. We were seated in the dining room area with red seats and polished red walls. A few steps away, a long espresso bar serves signature coffees.
Chef Michael William Davis, formerly of Del Posto and Gilt, is at the head of the kitchen. He and chef Marco Moreira, owner of award-winning Tocqueville and 15 East restaurants, put together a menu just as sophisticated and elegant as the restaurant itself.
Everything is made fresh from the local greenmarkets. Chef Moreira was one of the first chefs to make use of the greenmarket at Union Square. The menu adjusts according to the produce in season while the service is impeccable and the prices are reasonable.
The Bucher’s Block Charcuterie ($34) and deviled eggs ($6) make for a good beginning. The charcuterie was elegantly displayed on a wooden block. On one end, a jar of the rich and smooth foie gras sat on a surprisingly delicious fruit compote. It was a pleasant change from the usual Cornichon de Bourbonne. I could have taken more time to relish it, but there seemed to be a race at my table for who would get the last bite.
I dove into the Chitarra Abbruzza ($16) with tangy and sweet braised tomatoes, basil puree, and crispy garlic. The pasta, which is made in-house, was al dente and full of flavor.
My friends ordered dishes I was salivating over and would have ordered myself if they hadn’t already. The delicate and healthy Hearth Roasted Branzino ($24) with artichoke barigoule and black olive sauce would have been my first choice. That, or the Pink Brick Roasted Amish Country Hen ($24), moist on the inside, but crispy on the outside, with the right amount of salt. It was very flavorful, and the colorful fresh salad of watercress and shaved spring vegetables with the lemon vinaigrette made for a nice companion on the plate as well as on the palate.
The other friend sitting next to me ordered the Grilled Lamb Rib Chops ($24) with eggplant moussaka with baby romaine greens tucked between the two. As she was delving into it with pleasure, I realized that somehow I too was biting into one of those ribs. Forget manners, I thought to myself, this is decadence at its best. Marinated in special sauce of spice and herbs for hours, these were tender and perfectly cooked, with flavors exploding in your mouth. They were so tender the meat just fell off the bones. They tasted so much like what my mother made at home that I was won over and will be going back for it.
From the eclectic list of specially selected wines by wine director Roger Dagorn, the velvety, full-bodied, ruby red 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile made a very nice pairing with the lamb.
How regretful I was for not ordering one of the above dishes, but I was in my healthy mode and chose the Fourth Lobster Clam Bake ($32). It came with chorizo, potatoes the size of a marble, and a shellfish broth with delicate, light flavors. The clams and mussels were perfectly cooked, while the lobster was overcooked.
The sweets on the dessert menu ($12) were as inviting as the savory dishes. All are tempting. As full as you may be, don’t miss ordering the Union Square Rhubarb Crisp with home-made vanilla raspberry swirl ice cream and fennel tuile, with a cup of their signature coffee of custom Quatrième blend.
The Fourth is owned by Jo-Ann Makovitzky and Marco Moreira of One Five Hospitality.
132 Fourth Avenue (at E. 13th Street)
Breakfast: Monday–Friday 7 a.m.–11:30 a.m.; Saturday & Sunday 7 a.m.–11 a.m.
Lunch: Monday–Friday 11:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Dinner: Monday–Sunday 5 p.m.–close
Brunch: Saturday & Sunday 11:30 a.m.–4 p.m.
Espresso Bar: Monday–Sunday 7 a.m. – 4 p.m.