My Season of Seasonal Birthday Dinners

Warm Pecan Tart with Butterscotch Ice Cream at the Iron Horse Grill, Pleasantville, New York

For the past few years I’ve stretched my birthday to last at least a week, filled with multiple dinner outings accompanied by friends and family. While some may view this approach as indulgent, I prefer to call it ingenious, and this year I spread my birthday joy to three restaurants in three different counties. So instead of dwelling on how old I am, let’s concentrate on the food:

Iron Horse Grill: My father had wanted to take us to the Iron Horse Grill for years, so last weekend we celebrated both my birthday and my sister’s with Chef Philip McGrath’s three-course tasting menu ($49). Located in Pleasantville’s former train station, the Iron Horse Grill exhibits influence from all over the map, infusing fresh ingredients with international accents on its New American menu. I started with the intriguing and massive khaifi shrimp, wrapped in delicate, crispy filo dough and served with cucumber raita, papadum, and red curry sauce. The thyme-rubbed rack of lamb with an apricot-olive tapenade, polenta cake, and wilted spinach was comforting in its winter traditionalism. But I was most affected by the warm pecan tart with butterscotch ice cream, presented with a personalized birthday greeting. Thanks, Chef Phil! And double-thanks for not singing! 20 Wheeler Avenue, Pleasantville, New York  T: (914) 741-0717

Craftbar: My friends Cheryl, Rebecca, and I convened at Tom Colicchio’s sleek Craftbar, the informal sister restaurant to Craft; both restaurants focus on simple, seasonal ingredients. At Craftbar, the eclectic Snacks and Appetizers sections immediately grabbed our attention, and after much debate about what to order, we started with the creamy pecorino-stuffed risotto balls ($7), fried oysters with celery root remoulade ($9), and the dry but interesting sausage-stuffed sage leaves ($8). Cheryl and I both ordered the pillowy veal ricotta meatballs as our main dish ($21). The hefty portions were a perplexing contrast next to Rebecca’s small serving of salmon with brussels sprouts, apples, and smoked bacon ($21). We ended our meal with a brown sugar cake served with eggnog ice cream, and made a pact to return soon for drinks, so we could try the warm pecorino fondue with acacia honey, hazelnuts, and pepperoncini ($11). 900 Broadway, New York, New York  T: 212-461-4300

Flatbush Farm: On Saturday night (my actual birthday) Jim and I went to Flatbush Farm in Park Slope with our friends David and Rachel. Yet another member of the seasonal, market-driven restaurant scene, Flatbush Farm was packed by the time we arrived at 7 pm. Sautéed spatzle with mushroom ragout and parmesan cheese was the first of many large portions that night, the perfect choice for a windy and rainy evening in the ‘hood ($12). I moved on to the French Dip, a hot roast beef sandwich with horseradish, gruyere, and caramelized onions, accompanied by french fries and a beef jus for dipping ($14). Hefty, tangy, and tasty, the French Dip was also bit of a mess: Meat and onions spilled onto my plate every time I reached for it, covering my hands with slick, greasy juices. Finally, a dessert of warm chocolate cake pleasantly ended my week of birthday festivities. Another one down, hopefully many more to come. 76 Saint Mark’s Avenue, Brooklyn, New York  T: 718-622-3276

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3 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    melissa said,

    great dinner that night…i have to say the desserts were not as great as the mains but the company made it that much sweeter.

  2. 2

    Cheryl said,

    Can’t wait for that return visit to Craftbar! I definitely thought that the sausage-stuffed sage could use some melty cheese or a dipping sauce or *something* but who the hell am I?! I love our birthday week. I’m still celebrating, by the way – I have one more this Friday :)

  3. 3

    Christina said,

    Melissa: While I loved my dessert, spending time with our dining companions was the the highlight of the night.

    Cheryl: Jeez, still celebrating? You go, girl! I can’t wait to see what we eat next year! Let’s figure out when we’re going back to Craftbar…


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