When Restaurant North in Armonk opened last year, the area was buzzing with chatter. For those of us who live in Northern Westchester where the picken’s can be slim when it comes to good eats, we make it a point of beating the rush and establishing contact right away. Restaurant North is owned by Eric Gabrynowicz, former chef of Tavern in Garrison, and Stephen Mancini, former wine director for Union Square café; both Messrs Gabrynowicz and Mancini are Danny Meyer alumni from Union Square Café, hence the gossip about it being a Danny Meyer restaurant when it is not. Despite this, Gabrynowicz and Mancini are well on their way to creating their own signature restaurant.
The décor is reminiscent of a cool, beachy Hampton’s feel with wood floors and beach photos on stark walls. Upbeat reggae and pop music play in the background and the attentive wait staff is very casual with blue checked shirts and khakis. The downstairs dining room is loud and the acoustics could be managed better but it has a hipper atmosphere than upstairs where the seemingly older set dines and it is much quieter.
I find that while the menu is somewhat inventive, it is limited though classically simple, seasonal, farm to table and fresh. Our server brought out a nice, rustic and crusty pumpernickel roll with delicious apple butter sprinkled with rosemary salt.
The Florida Rock Shrimp Risotto with cauliflower and ancho chile was nicely cooked with a spicy kick.
The tuna tartare with avocado, yuzu, black pepper and radish sprouts is consistently good whenever I order it.
The wild mushroom flatbread with house cured lardo, arugula and truffled ricotta is lovely; the rich taste of caramelized mushrooms and truffle is perfect, but we do miss the flatbread with mussels — maybe they will bring that back after popular demand! The diver scallop and wild seafood sausage with faro, carrots and dill was nice though ever so slightly dry. I am never, however, disappointed with the John Boy Farm Egg Omelet with goat cheese, shaved winter vegetables and deliciously crunchy smashed potatoes.
During restaurant week, my daughter and I went for dinner and ordered from the a la carte menu as well as the prix fixe menu. The rigatoni with peasant ragu was slightly oily but rich and flavorful. The pork belly came beautifully plated with a delightfully refreshing salad garnish.
The Porchetta, slow roasted pig, pulled and stacked into an tight square package with crispy skin on top nestled on a bed of refried style cranberry beans, sautéed arugula and fennel jus was hearty and comforting.
The Beef Two Ways, one version with those scrumptious smashed potatoes and steak sauce was the winner. The other was a beef stew on a polenta cake and was tender with sweet potato crisps on top, though I would have rather had creamy polenta with those delightful crisps for a different contrast.
For dessert, the griddled olive oil cake with lemon curd and Jane’s “seed-uction” ice cream and the “Super-Awesome” chocolate chip cookie served in a small cast iron skillet are my favorites. For those of you who eat gluten free, try the snickerdoodles. Also, have a cup of coffee after your meal; it is surprisingly good and oddly worth a mention.
While this restaurant definitely has a cool reserve about it, it tries hard to appeal to the quaintness of its location. Our bill arrived tucked away in a John Updike soft cover book and we were each given a complimentary packaged muffin to take away, which added to the charm of the restaurant.
We are thrilled to have Restaurant North in our area and I am certain that they will continue to delight us with their new and exciting seasonal American cuisine.
386 Main Street
Armonk, New York
Atmosphere: Mininimalist décor, loud with beachy undertones
Recommend: tuna tartare, Wild Mushroom Flatbread, Shrimp Risotto, Olive Oil Cake with lemon curd
This guest post is by Susan Harts a chef who started a food blog because her friends kept asking how to make basic recipes. Susan gives easy dining solutions as well as elegant ones for people who either do not have the time to cook elaborate meals or for the gourmet who wants to throw a lavish dinner party. She also reviews restaurants for another popular website called foodmafia.com. Check out her blog: betweenfriendsandco.blogspot.