For weeks now I’ve been trying to hammer down a date with my mom to take her to lunch at Vai. I had read good things about the small restaurant and after browsing their menu online, everything sounded so good that I was really excited to eat there. So after ages of figuring out a day that was good for both of us we finally made it!
We made reservations over the phone, although I was given the impression that it wasn’t absolutely necessary to do so. We arrived right on time and were promptly seated, a few minutes later we were given our menus and glasses of water. The place had about five to six other couples, and the actual space was far smaller than I had imagined it would be. That being said, I loved the décor and general feel of the place – it was nice without being stuffy, and I loved the brick walls, hanging lights, and massive mirror over the bar.
Now here comes the sticky part. It took forever for them to take our order, granted there was only one host and one hostess, our order wasn’t taken until at least half an hour after we arrived. We didn’t see our first course until an hour had passed. On top of that, the menu was reduced to a few items (we only had one choice for the second course) and didn’t at all reflect the options seen online. There was a moment where we had waited so long for our food that my mom and I just sat there, grinning at each other, driven far past being incredulous and almost into insanity by the discomfort of the wait. The host and the hostess kept refilling our water glasses and seemed as embarrassed by the wait as we were. It just has to be said, two hours for lunch is far too long especially when almost all that time is spent seated and waiting.
Even so, my mom and I absolutely loved the food. Yes, really. In fact we loved it so much that we’d even go back again – despite the possibility of a long wait. We both had the Hamachi and Yellowfin Tuna Duo with avocado and preserved ginger sauce. It was seasoned perfectly, the creaminess of the avocado, sweet almost citrus flavors of the preserved ginger sauce, and bright punch from the cilantro garnish was, as my mom said, “perfectly balanced”.
For our second course we both had the Burrata Ravioli. Two ravioli served with a rich truffle cream, tiny Hon Shimeji mushrooms, and 18 mo. Parmigiano was the stuff of dreams. It was incredibly rich and creamy, I had to restrain myself from licking the plate. It was the sort of dish that you eat in complete silence, letting the flavors envelope your tongue.
Lastly, my mom had the trout served over cannellini and chorizo (the menu item isn’t on the website), and I had Scottish Salmon with roasted cauliflower and chorizo. We both loved our fish – perfectly cooked, served attractively, and tasted wonderful. I loved the crunch of the roasted cauliflower and the saltiness of the chorizo – I’d have it again in a New York minute!
Overall, prepare for a wait, but definitely come for the food!
429 Amsterdam Ave
New York, NY 10024