Court Street has made a name for itself as the go-to place for elegant cuisine. This was my first visit, and I hope it will be the first of many. But I won’t always be eating in the white-tablecloth dining room: The bar is big and beautiful, and a lot of folks on this early Wednesday evening were eating there, enjoying an after-work drink, chatting with friends, or watching TV. There were four flatscreens, one with broadcast news, one with cable news, one with the Yankees and—my favorite—one with the Williams sisters trouncing their opponents at the U.S. Open.
If you go to the bar, take a minute to look at the pictures on the walls. There are a lot of black-and-white photos of celebs when they were young—really young. Could that be Bill Clinton when he was about 10?
One of the great things that has happened to urban dining is that no matter how pleasant the surroundings or how extraordinary the food, the ambience and attire are often casual. A young man stood in the doorway, wearing a T-shirt and shorts. He turned to his girlfriend, who was wearing a dress, and said, “I’m not dressed right for this place.” Not true. Just about anything goes. The staff was in shorts, one patron was wearing a red T-shirt with “Coke” emblazoned on the front, and a guy at the bar was wearing a seersucker suit.
We were seated in the dining room with windows that look out on Court Street, arguably the most charming street in town—a cobblestoned alley with old brownstones, the whole scene seemingly untouched by the twenty-first century. It’s a perfect place to take a walk after dinner.
Waiting for us at the table was a small bread basket with a fresh, sliced baguette, butter, and an exquisite olive paste.
Our server, Ariel, turned out to be a fantastic artist, in addition to an efficient waiter. Everything at Court Street looks like a work of art and tastes superb, but she helped us select things that were especially colorful.
Take the pomegranate Cosmo, a cocktail made with ocean organic vodka, pomegranate juice, a splash of Cointreau, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice. It was a subtle pink with a slice of lime gripping the edge of the martini glass. It was a dichotomous combination of pretty but robust.
We started with a tri-color salad of endive, arugula, and radicchio with strawberries, figs, mandarin oranges, goat cheese, and raspberry dressing. What’s great about this is the sweet/tart combination of the fruit and the endive.
Other appetizers included oyster Rockefeller, clams casino, and stuffed mushroom with crabmeat; sliced Portobello sautéed with shrimp, red wine, and shallots, topped with melted mozzarella; fresh peach and avocado salad; and beef carpaccio.
For the entrée, I chose the filet of halibut from a really extensive list of specials. It was sautéed with garlic, tomatoes, green olives, capers, and white wine. I grew up on the Massachusetts coast, and halibut has always been a favorite. This was light and fresh beyond belief. It had no fishy tang, and the sauce enhanced the flavor rather than hiding it. It came with zucchini and pureed carrots, and I chose mashed potatoes, though you could also order almost any other style of potatoes or wild rice.
Other specials included soft shell crabs, flat iron steak, filet of pork, braised lamb shank, sautéed quail, and grilled swordfish.
Terri ordered from the regular menu. She chose sea scallops broiled with lemon. It came with the same vegetable combo as mine, and she ordered the wild rice, which came molded like an upside-down cup. She is a sea-scallop aficionado and pronounced them exquisite.
Ariel jumped right in when it came to dessert, selecting the profiterole but suggesting the addition of strawberries and blueberries to enhance not just the taste, but the color!
For those who are not conversant in profiteroles, they are an absolutely scrumptious combination of cream puffs with vanilla ice cream, hot fudge sauce, and whipped cream.
Wednesday just happened to be Lobsterfest night. All around us were bright red crustaceans, steaming with the briny scent of the sea. The prices at Court Street are surprisingly reasonable. That two-pound lobster will take you for about $30, but everything else is about $20 and under. Visit Court Street’s website for other special events, such as wine-tastings and Prime Rib Night.
We visited Court Street on the most beautiful late-summer day you can imagine—bright sun, blue skies, perfect for tennis and baseball. But I can also imagine Court Street on a cold winter evening—cozy and inviting with a welcoming staff and food that warms and satisfies.—Kate Rounds
61 Sixth St.
PHOTOS BY Terri Saulino Bish