I spun around on my bar stool and checked my watch again, then scanned the lovely interior of the Ember Room Restaurant. Filled with warm, golden light in the dusk of a New York evening, it was very appealing and I couldn’t wait to taste some of the food that was filling the air with luscious smells.
She was late. I was getting concerned. My husband and I had tickets to see “Jersey Boys” and we had planned to have drinks with a PR friend that I was meeting in person for the first time. Drinks, conversation, dinner and then a walk to the theater – I was really starting to get concerned now. She must be running late, she had forgotten, she was at the wrong place – all these excuses ran through my head.
Finally, I pulled up her email address on my iPhone and clicked on the phone number link at the bottom of her last message – seriously, how did we live before iPhones – and she answered instantly. No, she was not late, had not forgotten, nor was she at the wrong place.
I had the wrong night.
Could a travel writer who works with PR people possibly have made a more egregious mistake? Well, possibly if I was in the wrong city. Otherwise, no. I later checked her emails and they very clearly said the next night; I don’t know how in the world I got it wrong. She was kind, very kind, and reassuring. It happens, don’t worry, I’ll call the restaurant and let them know you are there. At least I have learned my lesson – check and recheck the date of a meeting!
The staff of the restaurant was very welcoming and seated us immediately, even though it was not technically dinner time. Our waiter led us upstairs to the Golden Bell room which overlooked busy 9th Avenue. We were surprised since we had assumed the room we were in, beautifully decorated with an Asian theme, was the entire restaurant but there are actually several different rooms and the restaurant seats 140. We stepped into a room with a ceiling absolutely covered with gorgeous, gold bells. 4,000 of these handmade bells from Thailand, the warm lighting and 20 wooden tables combined to create a comfortable and relaxing environment.
We had a drink and enjoyed watching the incredible variety of people who live in and visit New York pass by our window. A woman with a huge Gucci purse and a very tiny dog, a group of Oriental school girls with backpacks slung on their backs, a homeless guy rooting through a trash can, a young man in a suit striding along with his phone glued to his ear.
Presented with a menu, we were instantly intrigued by all the choices. The Ember Room has an Asian-fusion theme and had such fascinating items as “Red Curry Crispy Duck” and “Chocolate Baby Back Ribs”. I was starving, so I opted for the “Thai Pastrami Meatballs” for an appetizer. Salami? In a meatball? I was definitely intrigued.
Since I didn’t try every single appetizer on the menu, I can’t say that this was the best one but I can say that it was absolutely delicious. Hot and savory with a yummy, sweet tamarind glaze, we ate every single one.
I ordered the “Korean Barbecue Beef Fried Rice” and Tom tried the “Ember Seafood Platter” which had scallops, tiger prawns, calamari, clams, and sea bream all of which were completely delicious. He loved it – and I loved mine as well but I was a little taken aback when they placed the hot, sizzling bowl in front of me. Full of fragrant rice and chunks of tender beef and there in the middle…
“Um”. I said.
“Um. Is that an…egg”?
“Yes, it is. The bowl and food are very hot so when you stir the egg into them, it will cook”.
Leery, but willing to be a good sport, I took the spoon and stirred the raw egg into the dish.
The egg disappeared as I stirred and I assume it cooked because it was wonderful and I never came down with ptomaine. Always a good thing.
After we inhaled our dinner, we were presented with the dessert menu. Apple bread pudding, citrus crepe cake and a flourless chocolate cake were all listed but there was no contest; when chocolate is in the race, it’s the clear winner.
And, once again, I was presented with a bit of a problem. My cake…um…had paper on it.
I popped the little balls of chocolate in my mouth as I pondered the paper-wrapped cake. Our waiter had left after delivering the dessert and I wasn’t sure I should ask him anyway. Maybe I had already showed that I was an uneducated, non-gourmet food type goober when I asked about the raw egg in my entree. I pulled off a tiny piece of paper and put it on my tongue. Maybe it was some kind of spun sugar concoction. It melted away but seemed to have no flavor. Not sure if I wanted to eat the cake, paper and all, I finally made a decision and, carefully unwrapping it, I then enjoyed the chocolatey goodness. I’m not sure if I was supposed to eat the paper or not but the cake was more than fine without it.
Well, even though I was unsure about the raw egg garnished entree and the paper-wrapped dessert, our meal was truly wonderful. The ambiance was lovely, the service was great and the food was unique and delicious. The location was perfect for us since our show was only a few blocks away and we just strolled over there after dinner.
The two chefs at The Ember Room, Todd English and Ian Chalermkittichai, have collaborated to create an interesting and delicious menu at a cozy and unique venue. You should absolutely check it out.
If you make it there, could you check on the cake/paper situation and let me know? I’d appreciate it.
Full disclosure: Our meals at the Ember Room were comped, but, as always, I will share my honest opinion about any travel experiences I have.