Monday, August 22, 2011

Book Bindery

198 Nickerson Street


One unexpected quirk of sociology is that nerds are really successful people. Think about it: how many famous and powerful people are nerds? Their ranks include luminaries like Benjamin Franklin, Hillary Clinton, Bill Gates, Sister Wendy, Woody Allen, and Mila Kunis. No, that last one isn’t a typo: the very same Mila Kunis that everyone loves to jack off to is, in fact, a massive nerd who openly admits that she constantly plays World of Warcraft. Conversely, how many highly successful people seem like they’re really cool motherfuckers? This list is miniscule: Jack Nicholson, Latrelle Sprewell, Dr. Kary Mullis, Samuel L. Jackson. Very few US Presidents, with the exception of Lyndon Johnson and Barack Obama, have been cool as hell. And that, my friends, is a true American tragedy.

But what makes a nerd so successful in life is an intense scrutiny to detail, which makes nerds both high achievers AND lots of fun in the sack because, after all, if you can remember the name of the giant vagina dentata that Boba Fett fell into in Return of the Jedi, you can damn well figure out how to work a fucking g- spot. Lady nerds obsessively twitch their kegels until their pussies could siphon gasoline from a car; man- nerds optimize their diets for the best possible tasting jizz (PRO TIP: avoid asparagus!).

Which brings me to Book Bindery.

Book Bindery looks like an aristocrat’s parlor. It’s a timeless wainscoted tribute to shit old ladies care about; effortlessly elegant and unapologetically old- school, like a Prime Minister’s wife. We sat at the bar.

We started with the foie gras terrine ($18). This was a rich candy bar of foie, the terrine a foamy taupe, like meaty nougat, topped with a high- gloss tortoiseshell of aspic embedded with truffle. Accompanying the terrine was a beet salad. Yes, I know beet salads are cliché, but this one straight up fucked with my mind: miniscule quartered baby beets—purple, golden, pink—were littered like crashed race cars atop a maroon highway of beet puree. Interspersed here and there were crispy Chioggia beet chips, and the landscape was dotted with tiny edible flowers.

Truffle fries ($8) avoided the usual truffle fry crutch of being doused in synthetic truffle flavor, which was a relief because, as everyone knows, there was a recent scientific discovery that truffle oil is actually robot come. The fries were garnished instead with copious black flecks of shaved Oregon truffles. True, the delicate flavor of Oregon truffles seems almost feminine in comparison to the brutal petroleum musk of real Perigords, but then again no one is arguing that Oregon can beat France in ANYTHING. The fries themselves were great: fried to a glittering bronze, these crisp shoestrings would have been flawless if they hadn’t been over salted.

Poached hen egg ($12) featured a jiggly blister of poached egg, cloudy white and glistening wetly, like an old man’s dead eye, which stared up at us from a nest of supple pasta. The egg was half submerged in a parmesan broth, umami as fuck but sadly, also very salty.

Compressed summer melons ($14) was an unfortunate, matter-of-fact name for an audacious interpretation of prosciutto e melone. Rectangles of honeydew and cantaloupe, compressed with a vacuum sealer into sweet glassine prisms, were served with ribbons of prosciutto and a little drizzle of a sweet sherry sauce. The prosciutto was shaved razor thin and was astonishingly marbled: the reds were so red, the whites so white, it was like this prosciutto was either designed by Roy Lichtenstein, or else someone used a mandoline to slice a peppermint stick.

Sea scallops ($25) were perfectly cooked, nestled down into a drift of creamy sunchoke foam. Reinforcing the flavor profile were chunks of roasted sunchoke, which dotted the plate here and there like the scattered stones of a ruined abbey. A few wispy microgreens completed the picture.

A duo of pork cost $26, which works out to an average of $13 per type of pork: a bargain I must admit. Braised pork belly was fatty and rich like Oprah; a pork loin chop was seared a pleasant golden outside, while still managing to be moist and steamy inside like a saxophone solo in a 1980’s suspense thriller, the bone protruding obscenely from the flesh. With this came a neat pile of petits pois a la francais: shocking green peas peeked shyly from within the folds of braised red leaf lettuce, and the whole things swam in a graceful creamy sauce.

Finally, we closed out with a buttermilk tart, which, I smugly noted, was the last one they had that day at the restaurant. The crust was flaky like your mom, filled with a custard that was tangy and dense, also like your mom. With the tart was rhubarb, prepared seemingly every way possible: there was a rhubarb foam, a rhubarb compote, rhubarb sauce. By the end of it I was tired of rhubarb, but I never did get tired of taunting nearby diners over the fact that we got the last one.

Book Bindery, with all of its book binding and attention to detail, is a true nerd’s paradise. The plating is mind- bendingly quixotic without seeming intimidating, and everything is prepared with a nebbishy exactitude. I really love the Book Bindery. In fact, I love it SO MOTHERFUCKING MUCH, I’m going to get married there. The portions tend towards the smallish side and as a result the Book Bindery, with its exotic presentation and posh decor and high(ish) prices, becomes the kind of restaurant which Tea Baggers stereotypically assume is de rigeur dining for libtards. Luckily, discerning libtards can tell that the Book Bindery is sexy and intellectual, just like Mila Kunis.

Rating: 8.5 dirty nerds out of 10

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