Everyone knows restaurants ebb and flow—they open to huge acclaim or disappointment, are re-assessed as classic or cutting- edge, decline or ascend with the comings and goings of executive chefs. Sometimes you just stop going to a place when they seem to be mired in a low spot. I loved Current when it opened, fresh and beautiful and inventive, and then it seemed to lose its way. For awhile, there were only a few fish dishes on the menu of the supposed seafood restaurant.
So I’m glad we dropped in again during the last days of dining out, outside, that is. The flower boxes separating sidewalk from seating were overflowing, tables were comfortably distanced and luckily our server was Bobbi Koppel, one of the best and most professional in our city.
A trio of oysters seemed in order to tide us (I know) over until we’d read the menu thoroughly and with it Koppel recommended a glass of sherry—a combination I never would have thought of. Current features a list of sherries on its appetizer menu and that’s something new. The centuries- old aperitif seems to be making a comeback and sure enough, the warm, nutty barely bitter sweetness of the Amontillado was beautifully resonant with the sharp brine of the slippery oyster meat.
The menu is loaded with tempting fishies, but the halibut sounded like the perfect end of summer meal—grilled and surrounded by a rosy tomato pernod veloute (a sauce-specific word I was happy to see used on a menu) with caramelized fennel to echo the pernod and dabs of saffron cream to butter up the palate. Roasted fingerlings lent some starch support. My friend had the seafood stew—an abundance of scallops, shrimp, mussels and that halibut again in a coconut lemongrass broth with serrano pistou for bite and Thai basil-peanuts for some crunch. We had a glass of a new (to me) wine, Hungarian Kiralyudvar sec. I’ve only ever had the classic sweet tokay, but this dry and fragrant drink was a great food wine. I’ll be Googling it.
I have my eye on the swordfish and the pan-roasted scallops with crispy rice in a carrot-ginger nage—Chef Alan Brines (no, really) knows his way around seafood and I am eager to go back. Even when weather closes the pleasant patio, there will be room to stay safely distant up on the restaurant mezzanine.