Note: Ouest closed in June 2015 after an impressive 14-year run. Tom Valenti, the chef–owner, cited a forthcoming rent increase. Beyond that, the neighborhood had changed considerably. Ouest, at the time it opened, was considered one of the first restaurants on the Upper West Side with a serious, credentialed chef, at a time when the area was known for unremarkable neighborhood joints.
A friend and I had a pre-concert dinner at Ouest last Saturday night. I had been there twice before—another occasion before an event at Lincoln Center (loved it), and two New Year’s Eves ago (underwhelmed).
This visit was more like the first time I went. I started with the Salmon Gravlax with Chickpea Pancake Caviar & Mustard Oil ($14). This was an excellent hunk of smoked salmon with just a dash of caviar, but then, how many $14 dishes have any caviar at all? It was terrific. My friend had an off-menu potato gnocchi dish, which she liked.
We both had the Braised Beef Short Ribs with Israeli Cous Cous, Spring Onion & Shiitake ($32). This was one of the larger short rib portions I’ve seen, and also one of the cleverest. After braising, the short ribs were apparently put on the grill for finishing, as they had obvious ‘lines’ where the meat had been charred. The dish offered the best of both worlds: braising first (for tenderness), grilling afterwards (for flavor). Forget about the short ribs at Café Gray. This dish is the ticket.
Ouest doesn’t try to be formal, but the service was solid, and the food a lot more enjoyable than many restaurants at its price point. I’ll be back…just as long as it’s not New Year’s Eve.
Ouest (2315 Broadway between 83 & 84th Streets, Upper West Side)