Edward W Batchelder

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Sin Sin
85 Second Ave. (at Fifth Street), New York City

photo of Sin Sin

Despite what the name might suggest, Sin Sin is not an ultra-decadent East Village dive devoted to the systematic transgressions of the Ten Commandments. Nor, despite the fact that the name is actually Irish, is it your typical Celtic nostalgia job—no Chieftains music jangles from the sound system, and aside from some subtle brass sconces and a few Book of Kells–like engravings, there’s scarcely a traditional Irish touch in the place.

Instead, the new restaurant and bar (pronounced shin-shin) offers up what chefs Steven Del Lima (formerly of Cascable and Giorgio’s of Gramercy) and Peter Umekubo refer to as “global American cuisine.” It’s an eclectic mix of European and American classics, with everything from chilled tropical gazpacho to grilled Angus sirloin to their own take on buffalo wings (it comes with Roquefort vinaigrette).

All this is served up in a pleasantly open atmosphere, with curtainless windows overlooking the street and pale eggshell walls set off by mahogany and brass trim. The impression is restrained and tasteful, even though the upstairs lounge is filled with leopard-print banquettes and barstools. Both restaurant and lounge serve until four a.m.

It’s worth mentioning that this openness extends to include the gracious wait staff and even the prices, which welcome anyone looking for elegant dining on a relatively limited budget.

Start with the thick, dark brown gazpacho. It has a slight peppery bite to it and the faintly grainy texture that comes from a soup rich with extra additions. Well-chilled, seasoned with coriander and cilantro and crunchy with the addition of bits of red bell pepper, it’s a great summer appetizer.

For the adventurous, there’s the steak tartare starter—the serious carnivore’s answer to sushi. A patty of raw beef seasoned with capers and Worcestershire sauce arrives on a bed of watercress in a pool of red pepper coulis. Two small triangles of marinated goat cheese complete the dish. The steak is delicately juicy, the texture varying from slightly chewy to melt-in-you-mouth softness. The taste is surprisingly mild.

For main dishes, the black sesame-seared yellow fin tuna is nearly mandatory. A slight nod to the Irish is suggested by the scoop of buttery mashed potatoes, which provides the base for the tuna. Beneath the potatoes is a bed of quick-fried scallions, while leaning up against it all are ten slices of charred tuna. The fish is delicate in both taste and texture, and its coating of soy ginger sauce provides an unexpectedly tart undertone. Tuna can sometimes be nondescript, but this was magnificent.

One couldn’t fault the filet mignon either. The surprisingly thick helping came beautifully presented with thinly shredded fried leeks, a stalk of thyme, sliced potatoes, and green beans laid out in “X’s” around the perimeter of the plate. What made the dish, though, was the Cabernet Roquefort sauce. The filet was mild and tender, but the Roquefort was a wonderful explosion of taste. The only caveat is that the filet, ordered medium, came a bit on the rare side.

To cap the evening off, you might want to try the Chocolate Sin for dessert—chocolate cake surrounding a molten center of hot chocolate sauce, with raspberries on top and vanilla ice cream and chocolate biscuits off to the side. It’s amazingly rich and will certainly lead you into the temptation to commit gluttony, and repeatedly, too, just as the restaurant's name suggests.

© Edward W Batchelder
(from The Resident)

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