Monday, July 2, 2012

Is Remedy the actual cure for fine cuisine in Waldo?

Remedy could rescue fine dining in Waldo.

Posted By on Mon, Jul 2, 2012 at 2:38 PM

Fresh beets, chevre, Italian parsley and champagne vinaigrette -- a farm-fresh salad for five bucks?
  • Fresh beets, chevre, Italian parsley and champagne vinaigrette - a farm-fresh salad for five bucks?

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There's a chalkboard hanging on one of the lemon-yellow walls in the one-week-old Remedy Food + Drink at 512 West 75th Street (it's the location of the former Kennedy's Bar and Grill), and last night, there were four things listed on it: $4 carrots, $5 beets, $5 corn, $7 melons ... all under the heading "Fresh from the Farm."

"Are you selling fresh vegetables here?" my friend Marilyn asked our pretty server, Megan.

"Yes," she said, "but they're all made into side dishes."

Now the talented chef Max Watson, formerly of the Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange and Port Fonda, has taken over this restaurant's kitchen, and when he says farm-to-table, he really means it.

"Farmer Dennis of Simply Food brings in the vegetables," Megan says, "and every week our chefs come up with new, fresh ways to serve them."

The chefs include Watson and his two sous chefs, Rob Mitchell and Andrew Heimberger. Last night's creative (and inexpensive) offerings were carrots glazed with lemon, ginger and parsley; a dairy-free creamed corn made with corn milk ("We do put in a tiny amount of butter for flavor," Watson says); a wonderful fresh beet salad made with both golden and chioggia beets, chevre and Italian parsley splashed with saba (a sweet grape syrup) and champagne vinaigrette; and a compressed watermelon, canteloupe and heirloom tomato confit.

Megan says she tells customers that the restaurant is called Remedy because "we can cure whatever ails you. If you're hungry or thirsty, we've got the cure." The willowy redhead is a great asset to Remedy, if only because she's so knowledgeable and articulate about the details of Watson's menu. It's not particularly an elaborate menu, but there are some unique choices, including a meatless "steak" made with cauliflower.

A thick steak, but a meatless one, is served at Remedy.
  • A thick steak, but a meatless one, is served at Remedy.
I'm not even a caulifower fan, but I thought the dish was superb: The kitchen staff slices a cauliflower lengthwise, cooks it in a hot water bath, a sous vide, for two hours until it's fork-tender, then sautes it in a pan until lightly golden, drizzles a bit of tahini sauce, and serves it on a terrific salad of garbanzo beans and grilled radicchio tossed in a dressing of yogurt and the oil created by freshly roasted herbs (including coriander, mustard seed and fennel). There are real steaks at Remedy, too: a 20-ounce boneless rib-eye and a strip steak.

I hope that local epicures will find Remedy because its predecessor, Kennedy's, was never known for the quality of its cuisine. "We still have people come in and say, 'What happened to the Irish bar that was here? Where are the chicken fingers? Where are the burgers?' It's an educational process," Megan says.

There's still a burger - a really good one - served here, topped with a choice of cheddar or swiss and a couple of spoonfuls of a tart, vinegar-dressed slaw on a chewy Farm to Market pretzel bun. The closest thing to a chicken finger is chef Watson's free-range fried-chicken dinner. Megan swears by it. Watson marinates his chicken pieces in a tart pickle juice for a day, then cooks the bird in the sous vide (bagged with garlic, buttermilk and aromatic herbs) for three hours before dousing the cooked bird in seasoned flour and deep-frying it for two minutes to create a golden, crispy crust. Watson knows that saying this is heresy in Kansas City, but he's confident: "I think my chicken is better than Stroud's."

Not having tasted it yet, I can't comment on that, but Remedy does serve outrageously delicious french fries and battered eggplant fries discreetly drizzled with local honey.

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The two dessert choices I sampled were excellent, particularly a fudgy brownie baked in a waffle iron and sided with a scoop of potent apple bourbon ice cream (I took the tiniest taste, but my friends got a little tipsy off it). A trio of fried fruit pies, the size of empanadas, were topped with a ridiculously rich mascarpone ice cream.

There were people at the bar drinking last night, but I'm thinking that once people discover Remedy, Max Watson's food will be the star attraction of this saloon. Remedy serves food seven days a week: from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

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