Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Continental Restaurant and Martini Bar Review

This is for a series of posts for Stephen Starr restaurants including:
Alma de Cuba, Barclay Prime, Butcher and Singer, Continental Midtown & Martini Bar, The Dandelion, El Rey, El Vez, Jones, Parc, Pizzeria Stella, Route 6 [1], Route 6 [2], & Square Burger.

For brunch, the GF and I decided to go to the Continental Martini Bar, a Stephen Starr joint that offers an eclectic menu, set in an even more eclectic Jetson's-esque atmosphere. Is it a diner? Is it a bar? Why not both?

There are actually two locations for the Continental - the Martini Bar is in Old City on 2nd and Market. The other, which we've also been to, is the Continental Midtown, on 18th and Chestnut. 

Crispy Calamari Salad ($13)
Beer battered calamari, chopped greens, carrots, tomatoes, sprouts & sesame-soy dressing

The start to our meal came with crispy calamari sprinkled with black and white sesame seeds, which added a toasted sweetness to the dish. Fresh romaine lettuce was tossed with a perfect amount of Asian sesame dressing. Sprouts added a bitter freshness, and strips of tomato and carrots added respective sweetness and crunch to the salad as well. Kudos to the kitchen for not firing the mains until later, since this hefty salad took awhile to down. Stephen Starr at his best - the service is simple unparalleled.

Lobster Mac n' Cheese ($18)
Orzo, gruyère, fontina cheese

Case in point - they changed our settings between courses. And we're talking about brunch in a casual diner setting. This lobster mac n cheese was a nice change of pace. They used orzo, which was cooked to a perfect al dente. There was a nice crunch on top, along with a sprinkling of scallions. 

The creamy gruyère and fontina melded together nicely. But it wasn't overly cheesy, which seems to be perfect for all the naysayers who are against seafood and cheese being in the same dish.

Korean Pork Tacos ($8.75)
Berkshire Farms pork with Korean bbq sauce

For two tacos, the dish seemed a bit pricey. Three would offer a better price point. Being that we are talking about Berkshire pork though, I suppose you are paying for quality. Unfortunately, the unadulterated marbling of the pig was overwhelmed by a sweetness that was perhaps attempting to assuage the power of the kochujang Korean paste. Too sweet for my taste in any case. There was a nice heat on the finish, which was complemented by the countervailing fresh Kimchi and cucumbers.

Overall, the Continental Martini Bar offers an interesting take on various every-day dishes such as salad, Mac n Cheese, and tacos, with quite a few Asian fusion dishes tossed in between. And of course, when you're talking about a Stephen Starr establishment, you know that service will be friendly, courteous, and accommodating. In fact, they were able to get us out of there within the requested 45 minutes, without rushing us. Perfectly timed.

Continental Restaurant & Martini Bar on Urbanspoon

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