One of the more underrated restaurants during my culinary journey in the Big Apple was Commerce, which had pleasantly surprising dishes here and there displaying chef Harold Moore’s penchant for richness of American fare. To my great sadness, Commerce was closed a couple of years ago. After a short hiatus, chef Moore decided to come back in a more casual setting inside the new Arlo hotel in downtown Manhattan. This time, the concept was more of a cafeteria setting where you get to choose one entrée along with three sides (hence the name “meat + three”). It sounds Southern but I would say it is more an eclectic mix of traditional American dishes; in any event, I didn’t quite have the same memorable experience I had had at Commerce when I recently visited with my fiancée.
Before the main dishes, we ordered spicy ricotta toast to start the meal, which was serviceable but not particularly impressive. Chef Moore was known for cooking some mean meat dishes so I was really hoping that they could surprise me. Unfortunately, both meat dishes felt short of our expectations. The good part: the seasoning of each meat (we ordered a rack of lamb and NY strip) was properly moderated so we can focus on the textural element. The bad part: the said texture was at a surprisingly underwhelming level. We asked the server to bring both meat dishes in medium rare, which some steak pundits say is the ideal state of a meat’s temperature to taste the flesh with an ideal texture. I saw that the meat dishes came out with red color in the middle (often a good sign), and yet they tasted tougher to chew than I had imagined. Of the two, the lamb was marginally better for me, while my fiancée gave a slight edge to the NY strip.
The sides that we ordered were a mix of the good and the bad too. Of these, my favorite was the brussels sprout salad that displayed a ton of crunchiness and aptly neutralized the taste of meat. Crushed cauliflower and shishito peppers were also fine, while French fries and potato salad were largely forgettable. For dessert, we shared a delicious banana pudding that somewhat helped mitigate the underwhelming meat dishes.
Getting a reservation at Harold’s Meat + Three isn’t that difficult, although it got quickly packed in the course of our dinner with what we believed to be mostly crowds staying at the hotel. The vibe of the dining space is that of a typical downtown hotel restaurant with casual vibe amenable for large parties. I did like the cocktail selections from the restaurant a lot, so order one or two from the menu. It is often hard to live up to your first accomplishment in the second venture. I understand that Commerce and Harold’s Meat + Three are not really the identical concepts, but I will certainly miss the former even more after the experience at the latter.
- Creativity: 8.0/10
- Execution: 7.5/10
- Ingredients: 7.5/10
- Flavor: 8.0/10
- Texture: 6.5/10
Address: 2 Renwick Street New York, NY 10013
Telephone: (212) 390-8484