Wildthyme keeps growing.
The handsome restaurant sprouted in 2006. This year, it sports a new approach and chef. Wildthyme joins the farm-to-table movement, inspired by the year's spreading trendlet - local ingredients.
It's all very sustainable, very precise, and devoted to naturals, down to the photos of Steve McQueen and Marilyn Monroe that identify the restrooms. Except for the tab, Wildthyme has gone paperless, too.
The terse daily menu announces itself on blackboards. On each table: a Ball canning jar holds fragrant fresh roses. The colorful flowers and a few examples of contemporary art break up all the neutral hues.
So does chef Alex Algieri's carefully conceived cuisine, typically five appetizers and main dishes.
Horseradish-and-potato bisque, floating micro-arugula and a swirl of ramp oil, delivers delicious balance. So does the gentle, blue-claw crab bisque. A poached Iacono Farm egg paired with asparagus spears, house pancetta and croutons is a good appetizer that would work at brunch, too. Asparagus and morels star in the aromatic, mellow spring-vegetable risotto. A mild, "foraged" onion tart features Catapano Farm goat cheese. Jonah crab salad, with baby spinach, grapefruit and shavings of fennel, tastes fine. But, given the tableware, you'll need more than surgical skill to extract the meat. Algieri prepares crisp, sweet tempura-style shrimp with a cabbage-and-mint salad; and almond-crusted cod with carrot puree. Iacono Farm chicken: juicy, atop wilted greens, alongside aggressively herbaceous, sliced Yukon Gold potatoes. The candy-like chocolate ganache is rich stuff.
The seared, chewy Crescent Farm duck breast requires a Bowie knife, unlike the tender round of duck drizzled with a cherry gastrique on blini, served as a gratis "amuse." Underseasoned lamb stew has a polenta cake for company. Forgettable desserts include muffin-like carrot cake and dull lemon-meringue tart.
THE BOTTOM LINE