Ed Schoenfeld and Joe Ng’s Upper West Side outpost of their downtown hit RedFarm (2170 Broadway, 212-724-9700) opened its doors this weekend after over a year of delays and a lengthy six-week staff training. It’s a shame about the delays, but Schoenfeld’s a pro: If our experience on opening day was any indication, the extra time spent with staff has paid off.
Many of Ng’s signature dishes, like the spicy crispy beef and Pac-Man dumplings appear on the uptown menu, but there are enough new items to keep those familiar with the original interested. One such dish is the diced tuna, created by the bespectacled Schoenfeld after a trip to Hawaii. Indeed, the heaping jumble of line-caught yellowfin, tomatoes, bell peppers, edamame, blueberries, and jicama is reminiscent of tuna poke. The accents of crispy wontons, basil, and briny trout roe round out the bright flavors while adding welcome texture.
Not exactly new to the menu are “long life” (nee longevity) noodles. Downtown they come with lobster for $39. Here you get hulking chunks of shiitake and tender chanterelles for $18. The noodles are the slightest bit chewy, and the dish gets welcome crunch from a helping of snap pea slivers.
A transplant from the flagship’s recent pop-up restaurant RedFarm Steak, the skirt steak with white asparagus and leeks manages to keep the beef incredibly moist with a commendable medium cook. We went during the very first lunch service, so it seems more than reasonable to forgive the kitchen for errant chunks of star anise here and there.
Less forgivable, however, is this somewhat ballsy seating arrangement which finds a metal handrail intersecting the table, forcing us to occasionally flop our arm over the railing to get comfortable. It’s also right by a doorway. The Upper West Side space is larger than the original and just as easy on the eyes. Seems to us this table could be eliminated completely.
For now, the restaurant remains lunch-only, though dinner service is expected to start in two weeks.