Coming across a restaurant like 360 at random would be serendipity, but that didn’t happen. I heard about the bargain French prix fixe and made the trek to Red Hook — the first time in my seven years in New York. Restaurants like this can’t survive (or open) in the well-traveled parts of Manhattan.
After the trek — it’s a good mile from the F — the space seems sparse and grey, but after acclimating (with a bottle from the 100-bottle strong organic wine list), the Scandinavian chairs, burlap-patterned walls, skylit ceiling and graphic prints create a comfortable atmosphere where food and conversation thrive.
The ever-changing menu revolves around a $25, three-course prix fixe. We started with curried cauliflower soup with snowpeas, and crepes stuffed with smoked trout. The soup, velvety with an understated kick, was as proper a velouté as you’d find at Gordon Ramsey. The smoked trout was likewise generous, enlivened by apple slices and a dredge in horseradish cream: a most refined soft taco.
Main course options were the expected fish, chicken or meat, but prepared with connoisseur’s touch. Perfectly roasted chicken breast — tricky for a restaurant kitchen— was as juicy as a summer peach, swathed in crispy skin and paired with a brilliant combination of lardon, cippolini onions, and carrot puree, heightening the sweetness of the humanely raised poultry. Potent braised lamb shank had the unlikely accompaniment of chickpea puree, a subtle canvas melding the rich lamb, sharp Lucques olives and bitter kale.
A $10 cheese course made a fine transition, with perfectly aged gorgonzola dolce sharing a starring role with candied quince. Desserts were simpler than preceding courses, but made a fine, if unimpressive, finale. A simple ramekin of lime mouse was sprightly and saccharine. And a financier tart, redolent with hazelnut, was impossible to cut through, but was subtly sweet, chewey, drizzled in amber honey, and joyous to eat out of hand.
With the owner’s pedigree, ranging from Balthazar to Jean Georges, you might be surprised that he’s opened shop in Red Hook. But that’s what allows 360 to exist. And if it feels like a private club, that’s basically the case. But if you come often enough, perhaps you can join the family — and a lively one it is. I know I’ll be back, though I’ll wait till I can bike over in the summer. Even with food this good, it’s still a long walk to the subway.