When a restaurant concept revolves around replicating the menus of other restaurants from around the world on a rotating basis, it isn’t always clear how involved the latter was in putting together and executing those menus. Since its opening last year, Intersect by Lexus is now in its third residency, this time with Mishiguene (which means “crazy” in Yiddish), a modern Jewish restaurant in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Given that I have never been to Buenos Aires (although that will change in the near future as my wife Jun and I just booked a trip to Argentina in December!), not to mention eaten at Mishiguene, I was intrigued to see what the dining experience at this third iteration would look like. While not all the dishes I’ve had from the kitchen at Intersect were perfect from the prior two visits (see the reviews here and here https://kenscale.com/2019/05/24/intersect-by-lexus-restaurante-040/ and https://kenscale.com/2018/12/16/intersect-by-lexus-gregory-marchand/), both of those visits still showed enough ingenuity and execution that made us look forward to what the next projects at Intersect would be like. This time, though, the experience was more decidedly mixed.
The biggest strength at the current Intersect project lies in plating. Who wouldn’t want to get a hand on the pinkish beet hummus (accompanied by charred vegetables, gribenes labneh and pickled quail egg) that are almost too pretty to eat? The babaganoush, using smoked eggplant and tahini tomato coulis sauce, was another beautifully plated dish that works well for an appetizer to dip your complementary bread into. On the other hand, the flavor from the dishes we’ve had were generally off. Jun and I have always been fans of Middle Eastern cuisine for its clean and soulful flavor, but this time it was hard to see that same identity from the hummus or the babaganoush. On the other hand, other dishes could’ve toned down on the seasoning. The playful “cigar” dish with smoked arctic char, feta and spinach tapenade inside showed good complexity of flavor with the way ingredients worked together, but it left a bit uneasy tension on my palate afterwards. We didn’t appreciate that the portion of the three dishes we had started with would be larger than our expectation and were already nearly full by the time the main dish, a “generous” portion (for 2-3 people, available at $75; there is also a “very generous” portion for a larger group at $125) of pastrami short ribs arrived. The texture of the short ribs (with elaborate preparation on full display from the counter where we were sitting) was quite stunning; the problem again was the flavor, this time coming from the honey-cognac glaze that overwhelmed the meat. While the truffle spätzle that accompanied the short ribs could’ve been a wonderful side dish in any other setting, this time it didn’t quite help neutralize the aggressive seasoning of the meat. By the time we were done with the short ribs we were too stuffed to even think about ordering from the dessert menu.
Getting a reservation at Intersect isn’t too difficult although the dining room was nearly full this time when we visited on a Friday evening. Reflecting the root of Mishiguene, the wine list at the current project consists mainly of the varieties from South America, especially Argentina. We split a rich bottle of Mendoza Malbec to complement the meal. I wonder if Intersect could explore redecorating the dining space every time it launches a new residency to better align the space with the restaurant’s theme, similar to what Chefs Club does from time to time. After our meal, we were both wondering what the source of the flavor mishap could’ve come from. Jun noted that it could very well be that the kitchen was faithfully replicating the dishes from the original Mishiguene the way the latter would’ve served the diners in Buenos Aires. Due to time constraints (we are spending only a few nights in Buenos Aires, with the rest in Patagonia), it’s probably likely Mishiguene will not be on our list of restaurants to visit during our December trip so we will not figure out this riddle any time soon. Suffice to say that we both felt the food could’ve tasted better when considering all the creative plating.
KenScale: 7.75/10 (Jun’s Score: 7.75/10)
- Creativity: 8.5/10
- Execution: 7.5/10
- Ingredients: 8.0/10
- Flavor: 7.0/10
- Texture: 8.0/10
- Value: 7.5/10
Address: 412 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014
Telephone: (212) 230-5832