It was always an unfortunate name. Why name a chic, sexy spot in the Hotel Rivington after a Norse God known for his big red beard? At the time, the name choice was as confounding as the food, which was fussily constructed bits and pieces of things (my only memory of my first meal there is the part of my dessert that had to be squeezed out of a small tube). For the next couple of years, I never went back.
Then my friend Nicole suggested dinner at Thor. Her friend had become the head chef there and completely overhauled the menu. It was really good now, she promised. I trust Nicole implicitly when it comes to food, as she and I have shared some excellent meals together (including the meal at dell’anima, my first post on this blog). But THOR? I thought she had gone to the dark side.
We tried 12 items from the menu. Gone are the miniscule proportions and jenga-like preparations, replaced by healthy-sized portions that are nicely, not fussily, presented. The menu is continental (aka a bit all over the place) with a few bistro faves thrown in. The flavors are big and bold in every dish (sometimes overwhelmingly so), and someone needs to ease up on the salad dressing.
But the surprise of the night? The food is good, and some of the dishes are really good. My pork tenderloin was cooked perfectly, and the sides of peppery arugula, smoky goat cheese and sweet grilled peaches were brilliant. The oyster and bacon hush puppies are dangerously addictive, as is the goat cheese fondue with truffled roasted mushrooms. For dessert, I won’t soon forget the ethereal strawberry napoleon or the peanut butter sundae with salted chocolate and caramelized bananas. Mix that with the gorgeous interior (huge open space with glass roof, baroque beaudoir details, giant black chandeliers) and attentive service, and you have a restaurant that might have found its groove.
Thor at the Rivington Hotel, Rivington bet Ludlow and Essex Sts.
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