Curious about chef Josh DeChellis, we ventured out to the West Village's newish Franco-Japanese fusion Sumile last night. The restaurant's design underwhelms: minimalistic to the point of dull with unadorned white walls in a boxy space and kind of annoying postmodern architectural notes - floating ufo lamps under a triangular ceiling with a mirror at the back. Ditto the bar area: a pretty if sterile, elegant doctor's waiting room kind of vibe. Interesting smoky-glass see-though kitchen window, though. And indeed, one finds here some genuinely tasty and new things to eat.
The waiter's suggestion of 3 small plates per person was really too much food for us. These are not exactly little plates, but we are not exactly gluttons. Several of the dishes were delightful, though we'd advise sticking to 2 small dishes per person, or 5 for two people, and emphasize the request that they be presented one at a time. The little dishes are mostly $14 each, though several tack on supplemental charges from $2 - 6. Entree-sized portions are available for $28.
Very delicious amuse of I can't remember what fish, mashed and spiced a la spicy tuna - cum - brandade with daikon slivers.
Wonderful grilled octopus with shiso leaf and grapefruit salad with shanso. Suprising, fresh combinations of meaty and properly grilled, not-too-tuff o.pus with bitter leaves, acidic citrus and a subtle none-too-sweet if sweetish sauce. While yes, we disdain sweet food and grimace at the thought of fruit anywhere near dinner, this was a dish that merits return.
Terrine of suckling pig (top and bottom layers) sandwiched a foie mousse. Topped with paper-thin matsutakes, this arrived on a rectangular plate with two fat slices on one side, a poached egg and smoked duck on the other. A wee mound of grated green apple with wasabi harmonized well and again: no suffering here. Interesting, delicious combinations, textures, ideas. The foie mousse was not transcendental but more than serviceable - and in cahoots with the piggy, a perfect egg & duck jerky, made for another great dish.
'Line caught' chatham cod on 'sea-scented spinach' topped with toasted pumpkin seeds: though not at all spinach fans, we did like whatever they did to scent it: bitter, salty and complex in its broth and wonderfully contrasted with the nutty toasted pump seeds. Not a stellar dish, but enjoyable and points for uniqueness.
White pekin duck ramen-shoyu aji with matsutake 'perfume' bore a terrifically close resemblance to ramen, pho, any number of soupy noodle dishes. We weren't that into it. The duck, magenta and chewy, wasn't bad exactly, but reminded us why we prefer duck smoked or roasted.
These four had come out in pairs; only now did we request that the last two plates be brought separately, which we do wish we'd requested from the get go. Favorite of the evening: Warmed diver scallops with crispy sweetbreads and tamari shoyu / uni shiso.
Great dish. Some of the very best sweetbreads in town; scallops perfectly fresh, bright and bouncy. While again we're not fans of sweet flavors in food, this sauce balanced spices and intimations of sweetness with ineffable subtlety. Had this with octopus and the terrine been the meal, it would have been remarkably good.
Flatiron steak with wholegrain shoyu & braised shitake. Could have done without this one. Looked pretty, but the meat was so-so, the shitake soggy.
Three winners out of six though isn't bad. To drink: several carafes Akitabare "northern skies" junmai akita sake. We'd return, especially for the early bird special: $35, 5:30- 7.