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April 2, 2010 2:15 PM

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A Repast at Recette

I had the luck to eat at Recette on Wednesday night, hours after it received two stars and a rave review from The New York Times. The small-by-even-New-York-standards restaurant wasn't mobbed with diners yet, but from the look of its...

I had the luck to eat at Recette on Wednesday night, hours after it received two stars and a rave review from The New York Times. The small-by-even-New-York-standards restaurant wasn't mobbed with diners yet, but from the look of its books, it's going to be soon. During my visit, the place was filled with the sort of locals who live in the tony neighborhood -- young people who are paying through the nose for a studio the size of a closet and older couples who have owned their town houses for years.


Jesse Schenker's contemporary American food was as well executed as the Times review said, but the standouts for me were the desserts (and I don't typically have much of a sweet tooth). They're the handiwork of Christina Lee, a Per Se alum who, on Wednesday, looked incredibly coiffed for someone who'd been whipping up pastries for the last several hours.


"You have to at least try," she said of her appearance, "because it's grueling back there." Lee's signature dish is her take on s'mores: a delicate serving of graham-cracker ice cream accompanied by a curly chocolate wafer, a swath of toasted marshmallow and hot, as in spicy, chocolate sauce. It was as delicious as it sounds. What caught me by surprise was the passion fruit tart. It arrives to the table sort of deconstructed -- a scoop of passion fruit curd topped with white chocolate sauce, Champagne gelée and raspberry and Meyer lemon puree.


"I really love passion fruit," she said. "But it's also about the color palette. I see it as an artistic piece."

 
Having opened the restaurant in January, Lee is still adjusting to her new surroundings and the area's nonedible temptations. "Marc Jacobs is one of my favorite designers," she gushed.

"When the weather is nice like this I think maybe I ought to take a 10-minute break and go shopping."


Every girl deserves the right to shop, but let's hope Lee doesn't stay away from the kitchen too long.
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