Chelsea. $35+ per person
So here's the thing about Cherry... it's good, but needs to decide what it wants to be.
I love hidden restaurants. I can’t get enough of them. Whether they are just difficult to find, or actually a secret (like another favourite of mine Bohemian), it will take a lot of crap for me to have a bad experience at a place like that. So Cherry – which is visible from the street by only a small red circular archway and a “Cherry” script above – was certainly starting out ahead.
That circular archway leads down a dark staircase to the restaurant in the basement below. The scene itself is typical of a trendy New York restaurant – dark (but somehow well lit), well designed, and busy; Cherry exists in the vortex between well-recommended New York restaurants by New Yorkers and well-recommended New York restaurants by Tourists. You can’t exist there forever, but it works for now.
The food is good. Eventually Cherry Sushi will be a tourist trap, but that shouldn’t preclude it from maintaining its solid output. Take for example the Tuna Sashimi Pizza. Normally, my favorite versions of a sushi pizza involve rice being flash fried to crispiness. In this version, Cherry uses a crisp tortilla to serve as the base, and the result is impressive. There is of course real spicy tuna crispy rice on the menu, which doesn’t measure up to Koi ‘s, but still is a great dish to order. While my party (non-frequent sushi eaters) weren’t a fan, I loved the Uni crispy rice (below to the right).
The real highlight of the meal for me was the Ikura. I posted it on my Instagram a few weeks back (when I had the meal), and I have to reitrerate I couldn’t have been more impressed. The best Ikura is treated lightly prior to serving, as salmon roe directly from the fish has a much dryer taste. Based on my palette, this Ikura had a bit of Sake soaking around it prior to serving, and I couldn’t have enjoyed it more.
The atmosphere let me down just a bit. If you’re a sushi snob like myself, you won’t be too pleased that the staff were unfamiliar with a lot of the “special” sushi that were on the daily menu. That is why I made the comment that Cherry needs to figure out what they want to be – if they want to appeal to the sushi snobs in all of us, their staff needs to be better trained in the menu options - and specifically the Japanese names of the fish. I don’t honestly think that “Ikura” is too difficult to learn as the meaning for Salmon Roe, but perhaps I’m wrong. On the other hand, Cherry can feel free to maintain as a strictly touristy destination – but in that case I would remove the daily menu, featuring a wide variety of fish sourced from around the world.
All that said, the food was good and the atmosphere was unique. Cherry is a try, as I’m sure they will work out the kinks. For now, it isn't the best, but it certainly is not the worst (somehow I don't think that sentence will make it as Cherry's tag line.