When planning my dinner with Zane and Kira the other night—they a couple of teenagers on their way to see Brand New at the Gramercy Theater; me simply eager to spend a couple of hours with this couple of teenagers—I had the following parameters: casual, reasonably priced, satisfying food, Flatiron area, a little bit exciting. Yes, I could have gone the Shake Shack route, or Dos Caminos, or even Les Halles.... but then I thought, screw it: I want to try Ryan Skeen's beef cheeks at Resto, so that's where we're going.
We arrived at the pretty, airy room at 5:30, beating the crowds by a wide margin (despite getting two-starred in the Times last week, the place wasn't full even when we left at around 7:15) and proceeded to dig in. The menu is brief (six small plates; six "grand" ones), the food neither light nor subtle, and it seems best to show up ravenous. Three starters got us going: perfectly cooked, citrus-infused Scallops, nicely combined with arugula and grilled brussels sprouts, unnecessarily burdened with spongy bits of chickpea waffle; Bitter Baleen, which consisted of five plump and gooey fried porkballs with cheese, dipped in grainy mustard aioli; and—my favorite—three heavenly Deviled Eggs, creamy and zingy, perched atop slices of crispy fried pork toast.
Our entrees were equally successful. Zane stuck with a Burger, no onion, and called it "awesome." And the accompanying frites? "Awesome." Kira was a tad more adventurous, and was rewarded with two lovely fillets of Loup de Mer, served on this night with water chestnuts, beurre noisette and—most inspired—pulpy bits of grapefruit, which worked beautifully with the meaty fish. Meanwhile I was wolfing away at my unbelievably tender Beef Cheek Carbonnade, rich and sticky with its dark beer marinade, three hefty slabs soaking the pile of frites waiting below.
Then, dessert. Zane ordered the best of the lot, the delicious Walnut Tart, which was really more about chocolate and caramel than any nut I've ever tried, and ridiculously decadent after all we had just been through, but he's a young man, and had no problem finishing all of its gloppy goodness. Kira went for the more sensible Sorbet, and was particularly pleased with the mango. I chose the mini-flight of Belgian Chocolates—several pieces each of top-notch praline, cinnamon, and extra noir, with a few chunks of excellent peanut brittle thrown in just for fun—enjoyed a few nibbles, cried uncle, and brought the rest of it home.
Resto is located on 29th Street between Park and Lexington Avenues. They only take reservations for parties of six or more.