Restaurant Review: Park Avenue Summer

It’s Restaurant Two Weeks in the city, so you know that the restaurant week brigade had to take advantage! On Monday night, Gina, Kate, and I made our way to E. 63rd for some high class Park Avenue Summer. I left work around 5:15 and walked the 50+ blocks down to the restaurant, arriving just as the girls were being led to our table.

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I ate here a couple years ago with some visiting family when it was just Park Avenue Cafe, but the restaurant has since undergone a major reinvention, as it changes the menu and the decor to match each season. Since we’re obviously in summer (finally!), the decor was bright and sunny.

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Despite the yellow flowers, the lighting was actually too dim and the air conditioner too strong for my liking. If it’s going to be summer, I want natural light and natural heat! Maybe a few ocean waves thrown in there, too.

The food, however, was definitely up to par!

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I went to the bathroom after we ordered and came back to find that the ladies had begun the photography without me because our amuse bouche, as they say, had arrived.

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These are watermelon cubes topped with lavender yogurt — such an unexpected and refreshing treat. (Though, they would have been more refreshing if I hadn’t been freezing!)

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Along with the watermelon, we also received this charming bread basket 🙂

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I did some knife olympics so that we could have equal amounts: 1/3 each of the warm cheddar & spicy pepper biscuit, and 2/3 each of the polenta and fresh corn rolls.

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These were sooooo good, especially with the butter and coarse sea salt that came with them.

Now, in case you’ve forgotten or are not aware of how Restaurant Week works, restaurants that are normally much pricier agree to participate by offering a fixed-price 3-course dinner (appetizer, entree, dessert) for $35 (though we get it for $23 during Brooklyn’s restaurant week because Brooklyn is better :-P).

Kate began with the salmon tartare with tomatoes and basil:

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The salmon was served over a thin layer of cream cheese — I tried a bite on top of a crostini piece. I was a fan! How could I not be?

Gina ordered the caprese ravioli with yellow tomato coulis. You know I loved that arugula on top!

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This one tasted just like penne a la vodka, a flavor that never fails.

I ordered the butter and sugar corn soup with tomatoes and tomatillos.

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This was also a definite summer winner. The corn tasted fresh enough to have come from MNT’s roof 😛

For her main meal, Kate ordered the filet mignon with grilled corn on the cob and watermelon BBQ sauce (YES, watermelon BBQ sauce!):

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This restaurant seems to do no wrong in terms of food!

Gina ordered the seared salmon with crispy taro and cucumber salad:

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It came with a slightly fiery avocado sauce which I also loved because avocado makes everything better.

I ordered the lobster salad with avocado and citrus vinaigrette. I was expecting a few little pieces of lobster on top of lettuce, so I nearly fell out of my chair when this arrived:

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So much rich, juicy lobster meat over a thick layer of avocado perfection:

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Seriously, this was one of my all-time favorite meals and well-worth the extra $10 I had to pay for it! (Some of the fixed price dishes came with a $10 additional fee because they are normally much more expensive than the others.)

Conveniently, the restaurant week menu had three desserts. Obviously, we ordered one of each, starting with the peach panna cotta with basil foam and lemon cakes:

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The basil flavor was very strong, and I loved how it combined with the peach! Plus, aren’t these layers gorgeous?

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Dessert #2 was goat cheese mousse in phyllo with honeyed raspberries:

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This one was Gina and Kate’s favorite of the three (and my second favorite). The goat cheese had just enough sweetness to make it a fitting dessert component, and it made me want to try the Dessert Truck’s goat cheesecake even more. And the presentation was clearly another work of art:

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My favorite dessert of the bunch was sadly the least photogenic: chilled banana parfait with chocolate crumbs and butterscotch puree:

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The chocolate crumbs combined with the caramelized banana and the butterscotch seriously left me swooning. The crumbs provided excellent crunch:

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I did some utensil olympics to make sure we each got equal amounts:

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As you can tell, utensil olympics is a precise science, and I have been honing my skills in the field for many years:

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My own personal dessert sampler:

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Everything was faaaaaabulous, so you MUST go to Park Avenue Summer before restaurant week is over, even if it means you need to make a trip to NYC specifically for this purpose!

Have you ever made a trip solely to take part in a specific dining experience?

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13 thoughts on “Restaurant Review: Park Avenue Summer

  1. redheadyellowdog says:

    Hi! I don’t comment often (because i usually read blogs at work..oops) but i have to tell you how much i just love your blog! I truly look forward to it everyday!!

    ah if only i could take my private jet up to NY for restaurant week…but too bad it’s in the shop. the tragedies of life.

    Like

  2. Allison says:

    WOW! I can not get over the food you have been posting lately! You are leading quite the gourmet life these days (and im only SLIGHTLY jealous!) 😛

    Sorry it was freezing – I LOATHE restaurant experiences like that!

    I think my favorite food – was definitely the watermelon cubes – I wanted to try one so badly!

    Like

  3. Diana (Soap & Chocolate) says:

    I went to Tarrytown to have brunch at Blue Hill at Stone Barns – that counts, right? Amaaaaaaazing. You would appreciate it very much. You can look at my blog for the pics…back in May I believe. Oh I drool just thinking of it…

    Park Ave. Summer looks awesome! I LOVE the idea of it changing each season, especially in light of Food Inc and eating locally/seasonally and all!

    Like

  4. Olivia says:

    I looooove Park Ave (enter season here) It was actually designed by my favorite restaurant design/concept firm AvroKO. The meal looks amazing that lobster salad (I think I fell out of my chair too!!)
    LOL on the MNT roof top corn shout out!!

    http://ohlivin.wordpress.com

    Like

  5. Michelle says:

    I’ve never taken a trip solely for a dining experience, but I’m tempted to after seeing all this food! I’m not even sure what I would pick because it all look soooo amazing! Especially that lobster salad…

    Like

  6. Alison says:

    Looks like a good place, although it drives me crazy when restaurants are dim.
    I love restaurant week in my area. Unfortunately it took place during a week when I couldn’t go out this year. Next year hopefully.

    Like

  7. Gina Boland says:

    Excellent dinner and very glad I picked it! I make a trip to PA every year to go to my friends’ clam bake and my honeymoon to Italy was 90% food related 🙂

    Like

  8. luckytastebuds says:

    jEEEEZ i love that you go on such fun escapades to fancy restaurants! If only we were in the same city…i’d love to be your date! (How hard core to walk 50+ miles!! Only in new york could u do that and not be uber bored…hehhee I can’t imagine where in Chicago one could do that. I suppose downtown, but not 50 blocks!!)

    What fantastic pictures you took of the food…i’m a big fan of that bread basket. hehehe

    Like

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