The Guggenheim Puts on the Feed Bag at the Wright
At 8 o’clock on a Saturday ni marc jacobs ght, the Guggenheim’s the Wright is as hopping as it’s ever going to be, each table filled with polished over 50 Upper East Siders and a smattering of out of towners. The restaurant’s bright white surfaces curve and bend, echoing Clickkeyword[Frank+Lloyd+Wright]” >Frank Lloyd Wright’s museum design, and the flame colored slats lining one wall are an art installation meant to evoke horizons. From the dark street outside, the smallish, 58 seat spot looks like a glowing pod. I think the interior is entertaining and rather beautiful least it’s not another place covered in reclaimed wood, pre Prohibition sconces, and pussy willows. My husband feels like he’s in a “movie about the future,” and not in a good way. Contreras is skilled; his cooking is precise and delicate. Beautiful little plates of protein play to diners who want to feel they’re eating lightly, but contain enough stealth butter and cre marc jacobs am to make them delicious. A server comes around at regular intervals to offer warm rolls to those who will not be full, happy, or very sober without starch.
The eavesdropping is excellent, and picky eaters abound. “Is the lobster interesting in any way,” marc jacobs inquired an exacting patron, “or is it just regular?” “The lobster is very nice,” replied her server. (Actually, it’s not.) A tiny older woman downed two Grey Goose vodkas before the amuse bouche, while her tablemates discussed opera and tried to figure out what Clickkeyword[Payless+ShoeSource+Inc.]” >Payless Shoes was, exactly. They’d been at a party with Clickkeyword[Katie+Lee+Joel]” >Katie Lee Joel, who she said she bought her shoes there.
The dishes have a careful, diplomatic range chicken, fish, and meat, something for everyone. But it’s clear that Contreras’s heart belongs to the seafood. The menu is full of fish; thankfully, much of it is sustainable, according to Seafood Watch.
A golden crusted scallop in creamy sea urchin sauce with barely cooked wild shrimp tastes like a briny sweet dream. Alaskan halibut sports an appetizingly golden sear, arranged atop black trumpet mushrooms in a garlic flecked buttery cauliflower sauce that barely avoids crossing the line from rich to gloppy. Crisp skinned striped bass is actually the most interesting of the seafaring bunch, sitting in a smoky, brick red paprika broth that contains teensy halves of fingerling potatoes and a mess of tender squid. But don’t give in to the siren call of the Clickkeyword[Maine]” >Maine lobster, a succulent crustacean that’s ruined by a sickly sweet clementine sauce, so bad as to be inexplicable.
The menu is anxious to pacify those impeccable, finicky ladies who lunch. After fish, vegetables are the most appealing: a tumble of jewel like red and yellow beets anchored by sheep’s milk cheese, blood oranges, and pistachios, for instance, or a tasty parsnip soup, poured tableside. Don’t forget that stealth dairy fat! Driven mad by a desire f marc jacobs or carbs, we ordered a side of fingerling potato pur a deadly concoction that’s at least half butter, guessing conservatively. It’s delicious, but it fills you up like spuds crossed with ice cream. Another side, brussels sprouts and bacon, is hardly surprising, but competently done.
Actually, one of the most successful starches is a barley risotto that comes with a chicken breast in its jus. The nutty, agreeably chewy grain tastes like it was enriched with tangy farmer’s cheese, and mingles nicely with the salty chicken drippings. But who wants a boneless, skinless chicken breast? Not me, usually, but I had to tip my hat to this one, which was either gently poached or steamed until just cooked: incredibly juicy and clean tasting.
The Wright is open for dinner Thursday through Saturday, and for lunch Monday through Wednesday, plus Friday and Saturday. Although the afternoon meal constitutes the major part of the restaurant’s workweek, I prefer the Wright at night, when the design feels vibrant. During the day, the room is disconcertingly dark, reminiscent of a stage set with the lights off.
Like some of the art at the Guggenheim, the Wright may be expensive and not your style, but it’s easy to appreciate the thought and skill that goes into it.