The goods: South of Fifth fine dining expands with Symcha’s. Recently opened by Venezuelan restaurateur Symcha Zylberman, the restaurant boasts a velvet rope at the entrance, food runners outfitted in white jackets, formal service and a lengthy wine list focusing on mostly American labels.
Ambience: Located across the street from Joe's, Symcha’s beckons with an inviting outdoor patio shaded with oversized red umbrellas. Indoors is a petite dining room with beige stone walls, an intimate library that doubles as a private dining room and a buzzing bar fashioned out of an Everglades tree.
The grub: Eclectic American. Hell’s Kitchen alumn and Doral steakhouse veteran Josh Wahler helms the kitchen. Wahler blends steakhouse trappings with a few ambitious small plates like veal sweetbreads with mint guacamole and a zinfandel-braised oxtail. Prices are on par with posh competition like Joe’s and Prime 112: starters average $14, mains are $18-$49 and sides are $6.
Dinner starts with warm mini-baguettes studded with cranberries and chive butter. From there, move onto meaty roasted Chinese eggplant festooned with orange segments and almond slivers. Niman Ranch pork belly is outfitted with a citrus glaze then nestled in celery root puree. Jumbo lump crabcake gets the smoky treatment with a bacon and lemongrass-infused sauce. Mains include half a dozen cuts of beef including a 30-ounce bone-in ribeye and tenderloin filet from Creek Stone Farms in Kansas. Fish dishes include scallops with a tomato-onion chutney and a hefty slab of cachaca-marinated sea bass on a bed of truffle risotto. Sides like the truffle polenta and sautéed oyster and shiitake mushrooms are decadent accompaniments.
Desserts are large and rich enough to satisfy the table - go for the apple crumble with vanilla ice cream or the peanut butter mousse cake.
Verdict: A refined newcomer proves a worthy competitor to Joe's and Prime 112.