Recette: A Perfect Find

By Nadia Ghattas
Nadia Ghattas
Nadia Ghattas
August 19, 2013 Updated: August 19, 2013

Recette is a little restaurant, tucked in a small and-out-of-the way brownstone building in the West Village. Partly owned by one of the hottest young chefs in America today, Jesse Schenker, it serves urban American cuisine. 

Schenker’s obsession with food has been longstanding. Instead of toys for his birthday, he asked for cookbooks and menus.

The menu concept at Recette is meant to offer something for everyone while giving guests the option of ordering several dishes and, if they choose, sharing with others. It is also perfect for those who prefer small dishes. 

“This is the way I love to eat,” Schenker said. “The menu blends my love for refined cooking with the comforts of a cozy, urban neighborhood restaurant.” 

There is the Snacks and Plates sections, where those with smaller appetites may choose a single selection while hungrier guests may choose to add two or more. 

Every day or every few days, new dishes are patiently prepared, each yielding one surprise after another, and each with elegant flavors and beautiful presentation.

The menu is easy to read. There is Chef’s Tasting Menu section, offering the 5 Course Tasting ($75), 7 Course Tasting ($100), and a 10 Course Tastings for ($150). 

All the dishes I had were among the best I’ve ever tasted.

Take, for example, the Crispy Calamari ($15). My friend was so pleased because the fried calamari, which she normally does not like, was so light and superb. This was was the best I have ever had—so tender, yet with a wonderful crunch. The calamari was accompanied by snap peas, radish, grapes, and cashews, with ranch dressing. 

Or take the Corn Soup, with soft shell crab and pepper sofrito. My friend’s reaction, in a word, was: wow. It felt like silk on your tongue, with delicate and refined flavors, with a soft heat at the end caressing your palate. Such simple ingredients, and such glorious results.

I was swooning in anticipation of the Roasted Foie Gras. It is not easy to perfect this one; timing and temperature must be just right or it will be overcooked. As it turned out, it arrived the way it should be—perfect pink inside. It melted in my mouth like butter. I wondered if I should dare ask for more, but then decided not to, so I could try one of the interesting desserts prepared by pastry chef Christina Lee, a veteran of Per Se.

I did wish smaller plates were used instead of the oversized ones that seemed out of proportion to the small tables. The service was very friendly and knowledgeable, but a bit careless, I told my friend, who reminded me that Recette is all about food. 

The dessert menu offers a decadent selection of updated versions of American classics, such as Chocolate Custard with toffee sauce, cocoa wafer, malt ice cream, and vanilla “egg cream” ($10), and S’Mores with graham cracker ice cream, toasted marshmallow, and “hot” chocolate ganache ($8). We shared the S’Mores, which had us raving. The presentation was equally amazing.

Schenker has launched a monthly dinner series on the second Monday of every month, called “Mondays with Jesse,” where he creates a seasonal 10-course tasting menu for his guests. It is definitely worth a try.

328 West 12th St. (at Greenwich Street)

Dinner: Monday through Sunday, 5:30 p.m. till late.
Brunch: Sundays, 11 a.m.–3 p.m.