February 25, 2013
While Nada, Jeff Ruby’s, or Nicholson’s were often the most logical of choices for a pre-Aronoff Center bite, now Metropole at the 21c can be thrown into the mix. I’d visited the bar/lounge a couple of times since its opening in November but those occasions only included a quick drink. Finally, I made a point to see if Chef Michael Paley’s creations were worth the reviews, of which I’d heard mixed opinions.
For a Sunday night, the place was steadily busy and that was without a show going on next door. The wait staff appears to have no defined uniform other than a prescription of hipster chic. Our server in particular was sporting skinny jeans, a cotton T with a robot, and a dark brown cardigan. Personally, I’m a big fan of the comfortable in my own skin look.
And, as should be the case with any job, I prefer to judge someone on his knowledge of the craft rather than appearance. Doesn’t hurt either when he offers a nod of approval after I asked for a Blanton’s on the rocks (*second drink of night, first was the “pig in the city”). But that’s getting ahead of ourselves.
Our first round of food was spectacular, each in its own way more delicious than the next. I ordered the Sugar Snap Peas salad ($10), which comes with kohlrabi, shaved radish, pickled onion, rye, grapefruit and burrata. Although it may be more fitting as a summer salad, the crunch, cold, and refreshing nature of this dish was a welcome treat on a cold February night.
Seated to my left, I enjoyed the Romanesco (a cross between broccoli and cauliflower). This version was complemented with hot pepper, vermouth butter, and parmigiano. Finally, I dove my fork into the Grilled Rhode Island Squid ($13). That creature of the sea is an acquired taste; thankfully, I’ve acquired it and was rather pleased with Paley’s preparation — chermoula, celery, parsley, and roasted fingerlings.
I won’t go as far to say the entrees were another story but they didn’t quite live up to the hype of the first course. Chicken is a dish that unless totally and utterly butchered, should always taste slightly above average. Those who know how to tip the scale one way or the other are either abysmal in the kitchen or fantastic. The string roasted chicken is succulent, quite tasty, and does the job, but at the end of the day it is still chicken.
In terms of the swordfish I’m not the best judge of character. It’s something I rarely eat and when I do, I realize it might not be for me. That being said, the Atlantic Swordfish ($28) that comes with ashed peppers, bulgur, pistachio, olives and currants was tasty but the kind of tasty where I’m good with a bite or two and have zero inclination to slyly steal the plate.
The Charred Foie Gras ($18), while not an official entree, was the third main dish of choice at our table. Again, I’m new to this French delicacy but must say I was surprisingly pleased. For fear of making a grotesque face upon diving in, I was actually encouraged to try more. I’m told it still doesn’t compare to that of France, but – come on – what would?
Let me conclude by saying whatever is lacking in this restaurant in terms of palate satisfaction, which really wasn’t much, is completely made up for in atmosphere, location and overall vibe. Just a trip to the bathroom through the lobby of trippie holographic art and then thrusted into the all white, sleek and modern ladies restroom is an experience in and of itself. Hanging at the Metropole is definitely a bucket list experience and once you’ve crossed it off the yellow sticky paper, I’m confident you’ll be inspired to make it a regular thing.
Btw, they’ll soon be opening up a roof top bar. I think I know where girls night is headed.to top ↑