By now, my wife Jun and I have probably seen all kinds of tricks used by restaurant kitchens to make the dishes more innovative, distinct and, of course, Instagrammable. When I visited Le Turtle in Lower East Side last time, I was impressed with the creativity of the kitchen’s endeavor to bring the French cuisine forward while not overthinking it at the same time. However, the leading chef helming the kitchen, Greg Proechel, has quickly left the restaurant for a new opportunity at the Made hotel in Midtown Manhattan, this time with more New American bents. After our visit to Ferris on a recent weekend, I concluded that, unlike at Le Turtle, there was so much going on with each dish, and this time not in a good way.
A successful kitchen cannot rely on creativity in its use of ingredients and techniques alone. Such ingenuity may wow the crowd at first, but if the execution of the dishes and balance of flavor and texture do not back it up, ultimately the meal becomes less satisfactory. Unfortunately, that’s how viewed the dishes we sampled at Ferris. The bread came out warm just the way Jun usually likes, but why did the butter have so much salt to overwhelm our palate? Okinawa sweet potato with pumpkin mustard and buttermilk was promising at first on our first scoop, but the sour sensation of diced apples sprinkled on top of the sweet potato quickly became a major distraction. Jun wondered whether it would have made more sense to add sweeter pears instead.
Even though the whole concept of the restaurant seems more geared toward shareable small plates, the portion of some dishes was laughable, such as the grilled mackerel with egg yolk, Italian plum and ponzu (at a whopping $12), or the carrot agnolotti with lamb neck and pickled squash that I was really looking forward to taste, but turned out to a tiny, over-seasoned dish with no sense of direction or identity but just a colorful pile of different ingredients. Jun always holds a very high standard for duck meats, and the duck breast with charred eggplant jam and rutabaga didn’t meet her test in terms of its texture; why the meat turned out to be so tough instead of juicy and tender, we couldn’t figure out. For dessert, chocolate mousse with jasmine meringue came out with a not so aesthetically pleasing plating, but it was serviceable.
Ferris is a tiny restaurant, and has quickly become one of the more buzzed places in New York City, perhaps because of the chef’s pedigree and the clean, Scandinavian décor of the space that makes it an inviting place for different occasions. There is full bar with some nice cocktail selections you can complement your meal with. Ferris is an adequate example of how the kitchen’s creative direction alone cannot be the sole ingredient for its success. I wish that the kitchen takes a step back, reevaluates its philosophy and asks if they are doing all the basic things right that can bring so much more satisfaction to the diners.
KenScale: 7.5/10 (Jun’s Score: 7.5/10)
- Creativity: 8.0/10
- Execution: 7.0/10
- Ingredients: 8.0/10
- Flavor: 7.5/10
- Texture: 7.5/10
- Value: 7.0/10
Address: 44 West 29th Street, New York, NY 10001
Telephone: (212) 213-4420