10 Arts: First Impressions

Last night there was an invite-only event to birth 10 Arts, the new Eric Ripert signature restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton, which I was officially invited to and officially attended, but still felt like I was crashing since a) I was wearing jeans and everyone else was clad in cocktail attire and b) I have not had any plastic surgery, which seemed to be a requisite to get into this affair. I haven’t seen so many tightly pinned-back ears and preternaturally smooth foreheads since, well, the last time I walked by Rouge. But I digress…

The most important thing to know is that the food I tried was fantastic. Which is no small feat at an affair of this size and with this many schnooks snarfing down the free food as fast as the kitchen can send it out…

The pretzel nubs that they’ve hyped so much eluded me–and since I’m a pretzel expert, I was really hoping to try one–but I established contact with the fish burger (slider size) with oven-roasted tomato and saffron aioli on the most glorious buttered brioche roll and it was the bomb. A corn chowder managed to be both creamy and filled with actual kernels of sweet corn–and well, the raw bar was calling my name, but the army of elderly folk cramming free oysters down their throats made it difficult to get in there. I managed to snag some desserts, including a cloudlike little fritter of some sort dipped in sugar, a merengue pouf on top of what I believe was a lime curd or cream which was lovely, sweet and tart and perfect. I’m working on getting some menus to post, but there are a few highlights on the website and Food & Drinq has them, if you care to make your way over there.

Decor: Apparently there was a multi-million dollar renovation, but frankly, you can’t really change the vibe of an immense marble rotunda modeled after the Pantheon. I mean, it’s just always going to be sort of intimidating and majestic and full of weird sounds. They added an interesting wine cabinet-wall sort of deal to the center, got some lovely new chocolate and pink upholstery and a rug, added some kind of dorky LED panels that glow pink. The pink is good news because everyone looks better in pink light, especially people who have had as much work done as the folks I saw there last night.

The Crowd: Older bordering on elderly. Some younger babes. As mentioned, a lot of too-taut skin (on the men more than the women, weirdly). Lots of expensive suits, gelled hair and one brave guy wearing a deafeningly loud madras jacket. Eric Ripert was there, looking chef-hot. Marc Vetri was there, too.

The restaurant is open to the public starting today.

10 Arts [Official Site]