If you don’t know by now, good is the definite enemy of best, and best is the true rival of perfection. Oftentimes when you visit a restaurant you are getting “good” and you know that “best” is out there lurking and in some ways taunting you for neglecting her, and seldom you engage in one of the “best” meals of your life so you think, but “perfection” is like wisdom and it is crying out in the streets, screaming who will crave me, who will want me, for I am here waiting.
Well this time wisdom was on my side and perfection was an absolute umpire when I dined at 44 & X in Hell’s Kitchen, New York. I am a true sucker for an oldie but goodie, but I love it more when it is absolutely turned up, so I dove right in to the main course, “Turkey and Wild Mushroom meatloaf, wrapped in bacon, old fashioned tomato sauce, creamy mashed potatoes.” Now I never order meatloaf when dining out, especially at an upscale dining establishment, I always combine meatloaf with being home with my mother, sitting at the kitchen table, and smiling because not only is the meatloaf delicious, but I get the whole feeling of home and the nostalgia of my youth all tied up in bow; but sometime I live by a theory that if you are going to live, why not live on the edge sometime, and thank God I did. This meatloaf was cooked to absolutely perfection, juicy, melt in your mouth tender, and the fact that it was turkey made me feel like I kept my health consciousness intact; for all my true followers you know by now that I believe pork is the super meat, and by that I mean super good, so the fact that bacon was wrapped around this meatloaf led to the consummation of something absolutely delightful. The bacon and the bacon fat added a layer of flavor that was perfectly seasoned, no ketchup required! Now you can never have a true meatloaf without mashed potatoes, and because I cannot make a mashed potato to save my life the lump free decadence was the finish that was required. They were creamy, they were smooth, they were buttery, and they were spot on.
Next up the “Pan roasted Mahi Mahi, Maine lobster and diver scallop risotto, green garlic and carrot reduction.” Not everyone has the skill set to cook fish, and just to be fair that includes me, sometime the fish is to dry from being overcooked, sometime the fish is undercooked and you can feel the rawness on your tongue and you have to remind yourself that you not at a sushi restaurant ordering from the raw bar. So when fish is cooked right like it was 44 & X it is almost something magically transcendent. To add an accomplished seafood risotto to the mix was like somehow toying with my palate, it was almost some sort of experiment to see how much perfection my palate could handle all in one sitting, but I tell you my palate was able to hang like a champ and follow through to the pinnacle. I believe there is always one or potentially two things that have the propensity to take a dish to it’s crowing point, and for this Mahi Mahi it was the green garlic and carrot reduction, it kept the entire dish moist, and it gave every bite something special.
For months I have been plagued with good and occasionally best, yet my soul yearned for perfection, for I always knew it was out there waiting on me, it just took some time, and definitely some patience, and thank God patience is a virtue that is always rewarded in the end, well done 44 &10, well done.