Earlier this summer, I was browsing online to look for a class on tea. I love drinking tea (I hardly drink coffee unless I'm traveling) and living in NYC, there's gotta be something, right? So one thing led to another, and somehow I came across the Te Company. Although they did offer a tea tasting/class, I was more interested in their bi-monthly dinner series called Dinner at Bonnie's. All I knew from the website description was that it was an intimate, multi-course dinner where the menu would not be decided until the day of the meal, decided by the chef when he went to the market that day. I was intrigued. I asked a friend to go but she didn't get back to me until 24 hours later and by the time I was ready to book, the two dates in July were sold out! So I didn't get to go until the third week of August and I gotta say, this was one of the most memorable dining experiences I've ever had in NYC.
The Te Company is owned and operated by a woman who formerly worked in finance. She loved tea so much that she decided to open up her own shop, selling to locals as well as restaurants around the city. I guess that's how she met her partner, who used to be a sous chef at the acclaimed Per Se. Anyway, long story short, their shop resides in a tiny West Village location that used to be a vintage cookbook shop owned by Bonnie Slotnick.
Since I had zero expectations of this place, I think that's what made the experience more memorable too. I don't want to overhype or spoil it for anyone, but here are my key observations from here:
- There is only one seating (7 pm) for up to 9 guests. So arrive on time because everyone is generally served at the same time. You can bring your own wine, or opt for the tea pairing (which is what I did and it was good but a bit pricey. If you love tea, just go for it, Otherwise, bring your own wine, as much as you want!)
- The price ($135) includes everything. The 12 course meal, the service, etc. You pay this in advance when you buy a ticket online, and nothing more. So worth it, considering the amazing quality of the food, service, and the cozy ambience.
- Come with an open mind. Since the chef decides the menu the day of, you need to accept each course for what is it, or hope whoever you're with can eat anything. Most everything we had was seafood and each course was small--a few bites each--but you will get incredibly full since there's 12 of them! This includes dessert. Nothing we ate was weird though. Everything was so fresh and tasty and flavorful, and for the most part, dishes you cannot just find at every other restaurant (or at least the evening I went).
- I've eaten at Per Se, and I thought my meal here was far superior (and way better value) than Per Se. I wish the chef cooked somewhere else (since they only do dinners here 2x a month) but unfortunately (for me) he doesn't.
- Whoever you come with better be someone you really like! My friend and I sat here from 7 pm to 10:30 pm. They reserve the right to ask you to leave an hour after the last course is serve. We left right after since we were so tired and full. The dinners are only on Monday nights (so far).
- Below are some of the dishes we had. My faves were the trout with roe, soft scrambled eggs with truffles, crab meat with gelatin (sounds kinda weird but it was DELICIOUS--very buttery), the scallops, heirloom tomatoes with sardines, and the Portuguese cheese (which the chef's friend brought over from Portugal, you can't get it here). I asked what the cheese was called and I think it's biscoito amanteigado.
You can tell they prepare the dinner with care. I would definitely go back (if tickets become available, so far they are sold out through November!). And I loved that at the end of the meal, the chef walks around to each table to have a chat. It's really rare that I wake up the next day still thinking about what I ate the night before, and I thought about this meal after for daaaaayyyysss!!! Highly recommend this!