- scene: Well dressed groups of youngish people with good hearing
- sip: Lambrusco was quite lovely
- savor: Um....
- sit: With anyone who enjoys a good laugh and can tolerate shitty service; people who can hear well and don't mind shouting
- spend: $$
- address: 22 East 13th Street
- phone number: (212) 231-2236
- website: www.allondanyc.com
If a knife falls in a restaurant and no one comes to replace it, is it really dirty? This was one of the silly questions that we were forced to ask ourselves while desperately trying to get someone’s attention during dinner at All’onda. Now it might seem like I am going a little hard on this place given the fact that it just opened, but the whole experience served up not much more than some funny punchlines. We were truly excited for All’onda and already envisioned becoming regulars, and although D is more inclined to return again, I most certainly will not. We know that a visit to a restaurant close to its opening date may not be indicative of the true experience to be had, but All’onda has a lot of work to do; and it is a joint from seasoned restaurant peeps, not a mom and pop shop, so the expectations were set accordingly.
For starters, the whole Italian/Japanese concept is a little ridiculous; I know some pretentious, high-minded critic (Ryan Sutton), will no undoubtedly pontificate on the ingenious and harmonious blending of two ostensibly dissimilar cuisines, but soy sauce ice cream is stupid. It is not that I am not sophisticated or open to new things, but a dessert menu comprised of entirely savory items is a hard sell. Also- the room is beyond loud, without a soft surface in sight to absorb any of the sounds,and the service was terrible. Our waiter was completely useless, and the other waiter working the room was very good at looking but not seeing, appearing to be busy but not actually attending to anyone. Four of us were literally, exaggeratingly, waving our arms in the air for attention to no avail. Boyfriend lost his shit when the waiter came over and appeared to be about to give us some insight into the menu, or recite specials, as is the case in other restaurants, but merely rather read general descriptions of the already clearly divided menu. : “Up top, those are some small bites, and then, there are the starters, following that are the pasta courses, and then the main courses.” It was remarked that it was the single most useless interaction with a server ever, and I am inclined to agree, but I am of the small segment of the population that has encountered a menu before, so maybe I am cynic.
Squid ink and uni arranicini were tasteless and black inside, (like my heart), topped with the smallest, most useless piece of uni; Alla’onda’s lack of skill with such a special ingredient would also be obvious in the uni bucatini dish. I have had uni croquettes before and uni with pasta done to rich, briny, simple effect; this was just uni rape. The hamachi sashimi dish had great flavor, and the clam pasta dish had odd flavor; it seems too much the ramazotti leant a almost curry like aroma to the dish and overpowered what was probably the most well-executed dish we had all evening. The oh so scandalous duck with chocolate pasta dish tasted of neither; it wasn’t bad, for a completely brown dish, and Boyfriend finished it, but it was very short on duck. As mentioned before, my bucatini with uni and breadcrumbs did not have any delicateness of uni, but rather a smack you in the face flavor of smoke that made it seem like a terrible carbonara, not a treat from the sea. Sister’s branzino was enjoyable, but nothing extraordinary or noteworthy; it could have been a good branzino at any place in the city. Our fourth had the skate, and at that point I had lost my patience with this restaurant and didn’t want to try one more bite.
Several times our waiter came over to our table, noticed our still forks and finished plates, and just removed glasses. No matter what was going on, the only thing that got any attention was glassware; by the time we were cleared and briefed on the desserts, we were late for other plans and made the painstaking decision to forgo the soy sauce ice cream; somehow, it does not keep me awake at night, wondering what I had missed. ( Had I partaken, I think I would might have been awake at night for different reasons…)
Although it is early and this place has received a lot of hype, I am firm in my stance that my experience at All’onda was comical and underwhelming.