19 Kenmare Street
New York, NY 10012

If there's one thing New York City has it's fair share of, it's French bistros. It seems as if they're everywhere these days. They aren't of course. The one in my neighborhood closed to become a froyo joint, the one in Myna's neighborhood never existed to begin with, and the one in my parents' neighborhood is Belgian. But if you're like myself and most other diners-about-town, the places where you find yourself eating seem to be awash in them, especially Soho/Nolita. Indeed, just a couple of weeks ago I regaled you with my tale of overcooked duck at Tartinery. This week, Myna and I chose Ken & Cook, which is just a few blocks away.

Ken & Cook, an establishment in which chefs "cook" food on "Ken"mare street, is a quaint little place that I found very reminiscent of Lavagna in the East Village. In the back sits a bar where people like me can nurse a drink and fill in crossword puzzles while waiting for our dates to arrive. The seating section spills through large, open floor-to-ceiling windows out onto the sidewalk. Polite waiters with accents and casual jeans tell you the specials.

Myna arrived right on time (she's good that way) and we were led to a table just inside those large open windows. First things first, it was time for a cocktail. The list of house cocktails was small, but we each found something we liked. She chose to get the more "masculine" one, while I went for a drink which could have only had a more girly name if it referenced My Little Pony or Hello Kitty. These came just as our first bite, oysters, arrived at the table. Ken & Cook, much like many other restaurants at the moment, has a raw bar selection. When we arrived, they were having their happy hour special of $1 Fresh Naked Cowboy Oysters. It's virtually impossible to pass that up. So we didn't. Were they good? Of course they were good. They're oysters! Silly reader.

Come the appetizers, Myna ordered one of her faves, the Beet Salad, made with pistachio nuts, radish, and ricotta cheese. I had a small bite and enjoyed it. Beets and Kale. Before dating Myna, these things were never on my mind as something I would like. My choice was the Beef Tartare, served with toasted baguette slices and a under a perched soft boiled egg. It's not often that I even see beef tartare on a menu, let alone order it. Perhaps a lifetime of anxious parents worrying about salmonella poisoning in all it's glorious forms is the cause. Or perhaps I just always think "man, that would go great with a bun, a side of fries, and a few minutes on the grill." In any event, I punctured the egg, allowing the yolk to drizzle over and into the raw meat and dug in. Sometimes I spread the meat onto the toast like it was cream cheese; sometimes I just scooped it up. It was delicious. Tangy and cool and surprisingly heavy. By the end of just the appetizer, I was starting to fill up.

For her entree, Myna ordered the Braised Lamb Shank with figs, carrots and pignoli nuts, as well as a small flat cylindrically shaped side of quinoa, the mysteriously popular, yet utterly flavorless supergrain. Every cable-TV snake-oil dietician lauds the magical powers of quinoa, but I'm pretty sure that in ten or fifteen years, someone will discover that it causes autism. Quinoa notwithstanding, the lamb shank was superbly tender and extremely flavorful, as though it had been sitting and steaming in a stew pot since morning. It was also pretty damn big. Myna took half of it home to bring to work for lunch the next day. I ordered the Scallops with a side of sauteed garlic spinach and in a creamy beurre blanc (butter) sauce. Although I was just this side of full, I powered through. Four medium-sized scallops weren't gonna do me in. I did give one to Myna though... Three medium-sized scallops weren't gonna do me in. If I thought that the steak tartare was heavy, it was a feather compared to the scallops. Sitting in a veritable soup of a butter and cream, it was like eating cement. Delicious, amazing cement. The scallops were like little, butter-coated pillows. I could have eaten this all day (if doing so wouldn't force me to wear sweat pants instead of jeans).

Myna and I didn't get dessert. The meal was massive and I was already stuffed to the point of feeling guilty. A half dozen oyster, two appetizers, two entrees, and two drinks, plus tax and tip, should cost you approximately $150, give or take.

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