\"Theaters and restaurants
make good bedfellows,\"
observed Bain Boehlke,
artistic director of the Jungle Theater.
He was referring to the blooming
of upscale eateries that grew up
around his Lyn-Lake stage-space like
delicious mushrooms after a spring
Restaurants that understand the theater
crowd know they are looking
for something delicious and speedy,
but ideally not maximum-priced,
because diners are also buying a
couple tickets for the show. That\'s
where the Prix Fixe (fixed-price)
pre-theater dinner comes in.
And another way of saying good
bedfellows is, well, Goodfellow\'s.
Now in its fifth year, Goodfellow\'s,
40 S. 7th St., inherited its swank interior,
which is as glamorous as anything
you\'ll find in Manhattan. The
design was originally unveiled in
1930, and is still one of the last great
examples of authentic ZigZag Moderne,
the first phase of the Art Deco
Goodfellows is always good to know
on those nights when someone else
is buying and they only care about
getting something great. Maitre d\'
John Day estimates the average food
tab is about $60-70 per person
before bar tab, tax and tip.
Knowing the regular rate makes the
three-course pre-theater dinner so great.
For $39 per person plus drinks, you get a
choice example of how they do things,
are waited on hand and foot, and you\'re
out by 7:15 p.m. You don\'t really have to
go to the theater - you can just use this
as an opportunity to sample and enjoy.
There are only two catches: you have to
place your order between 5:30 p.m. and
6:30 p.m., and you have to choose
between two offerings. That works for
the restaurant, because they can take
care of you before the dinner rush. And
it works for customers, because they
can take care of us before the dinner
I can confess to a previous life in New
York City, where I worked as associate
editor for a Japanese trade magazine
that covered restaurant design. A large
part of my job was to find cool trendy
restaurants, take pictures of the designs
and eat their food. I would place my
experience here with the best of any of
The fact that you only get two choices is
not a problem. Just do what they tell
you. The two things they do are made up
that night, after the chef gets inspired.
After I ordered, the staff rolled out a little
starter in the form of a piece of wokcharred
marlin, medium rare, on a wonton,
with egg plant puree, roasted
shiitake mushroom, and some papaya
with daikon-sprouts. About the size of a
large piece of sushi, the marlin was a
refreshing little burst of flavor to kick
A bread basket with fresh cornbread,
wheat bread and sourdough (all delicious
and made on premises) is slid surreptitiously
onto the table with butter
and beverage by one of the three staffers
who lavished me with attention without
ever overdoing it.
The service was prompt, courteous and
effective without ever being intrusive. I
was not undercover or anything, but
while you can fake politeness, you can\'t
fake competence. They were just right.
My meal began with a consomm of rabbit
breast, wrapped in pheasant thigh
and a thin phylo pastry, which is then
baked. This Wellington is then topped
with more rabbit, garnished with black
Oregon truffles and a touch of thyme. To
keep the pastry from getting soggy, the
game consomm is applied tableside -
a nice touch. And after it is served, you
have the chance to splash on some dry
sherry and white Italian truffle oil.
This rabbit and pheasant was a tender
and flavorful combo, warm and rich like
the dark meats that they are, gamy in the
good sense that it has more flavor than
tame, weak stuff like turkey or chicken.
The pastry was still crispy and not besotted,
because of the last minute application.
The consomm was a wealth of flavor,
good body with a blend of different
touches coming at you all at once.
My main course arrived: two pieces of
Atlantic salmon wrapped in rice paper,
each about the size of a rather weighty
bread stick. They were sauted in a neutral
oil, like sesame, and then accented
with unagi, which is a soy and mirin
(sweet rice wine) reduction. The garnish
is a set of four tempura-fried shrimp,
Thai-style, on a bed of bibb lettuce with
papaya, mint and cilantro. The whole
thing is finished with a curry and
coconut sauce, which was perfectly balanced
to my taste: spicy, but not so hot
that it drowned the other flavors. The
papaya is a fresh little addition that cuts
through the curry with a cooling touch,
and is not out of place.
Your choice of desserts is more extensive
- with eight out of ten of the items
on the regular menu (exceptions are the
samplers of desserts and cheeses). I had
the Banana Bread Pudding, a great innovative
touch right there. It was warmed
and sitting in a puddle of coffee-toffee
sauce, decorated with a small scoop of
dark rum ice cream, dressed out with
pecan brittle, in the company of some
bananas that had been bruled - that is,
clad in a sheen of caramelized white
sugar that had been melted with a blowtorch.
What\'s not to like? I was ready to roll
before 7 p.m. and I never once felt
Maitre d\' Day says that while there is no
dress code, a lot of the customers do
dress up, and sometimes you may have
that special outfit in the closet that
demands the proper setting.
It\'s the mark of a civilized city when you
can go to a place like this and have a
meal like that.