12-Year-Old Food Critic
When David Fishman heads out to eat at a restaurant, he brings his appetite ... and a pen and paper! The 12-year-old food critic explains that his love of food began seven years ago when he started helping his mom in the kitchen. He says his parents never bugged him to try different things, and that his palette for a variety of foods developed naturally as he started to enjoy restaurant hopping and sampling new dishes. "There isn't really anything I don't like," David says. After his mother suggested that he start reviewing some of the restaurants they visited, a passion was born. "I get to eat and write," David says. "Two things I love to do!"
What began as a fun hobby soon took on a life of its own when a New York Times reporter wrote about David's talents. The exposure led to more assignments, with his opinions about appetizers, main dishes and desserts now published in GQ and Time Out New York Kids. And though David says he spends more time in restaurants than your average 12-year-old, he's still able to eat healthy. "No matter what restaurant you go to, fancy or casual, you're always going to have a choice between healthy and not healthy," he says, and offers a few tips that have helped keep him in shape. "Definitely exercise as much as you can, and don't hesitate to leave food on the plate [if you're already full]."
David explains that the three main things he looks for when reviewing a restaurant are decor, service and food, and he's giving us a sampling here in his review of one of New York's classic restaurants, The Palm Too.
The Palm Too
840 Second Avenue
New York, NY 10017
by David Fishman
Where, you ask, did the name "Palm" come from? Believe it or not, the first Palm Restaurant was opened in 1926 by two brothers from Parma, Italy. They had come to America to open a new restaurant. The name was supposed to be Parma, but thanks to our heavy New York accents, the name was often misspoken. The brothers changed the name to one easier for Americans to say and their fast growing restaurant became The Palm.
Some familiar and some unknown faces of actors and actresses stare openly at you from the walls of this club-like restaurant. When the first Palm opened, a cartoonist could get a free meal just by drawing the face of a famous celebrity for the ever growing walls. At 1:15 p.m. on a nice sunny Saturday in April, the restaurant was full in some rooms and partly full in others. Our waiter arrives and offers us drinks as though he had been doing it for many years. In fact, some of the waiters have been working at Palm Too for over 30 years!
I discovered that in the 1920s the Palm Restaurant served traditional Italian dishes like linguini with white clam sauce, veal scallopine and chicken parmigiana. If someone requested a steak or lobster, so as not to disappoint him, the waiter was told to run to the butcher or to the fish market. After a while, the restaurant got the idea. On my first visit, I passed over the Italian dishes and ordered the Surf N’ Turf, a famous dish of 1/2 Filet Mignon and 1/2 Lobster (Nova Scotia). The second dish I chose was a favorite of mine and also a bit of a test to see how far Chef Mike Decker would go with Sesame Seared Ahi Tuna Salad.
The environment was warm -- not warm in the sense of heat, but in friendliness. The waiters were friendly and the customers all seemed to ignore the prices and focused on eating the food and enjoying the service. I am told that celebrities dine here to see and be seen by other celebrities.
My hungry eyes followed the tuna salad all the way to my table, then I dove into the absolutely delicious dish. Served on top of seaweed were three thick slices of Ahi Tuna. The seaweed was the fishy flavor in this dish and the tuna was the sweet, cool flavor fighting away the slick taste of the seaweed. Each slice of raw tuna was charred around the edge where pepper was sprinkled, then drizzled with a thick soy sauce. After constantly licking my fork I felt refreshed and enthusiastic about what would come next.
After not serving steaks originally, this restaurant seemed almost obsessed with steaks now. Ranging from 9 ounces to 36 ounces, these steaks seem to be the heart of The Palm. I ponder about this, but stop when I see my next dish arrive. (I should confess here that I am a big steak and lobster lover).
A large piece of steak stood with pride against the two-pound lobster. The Filet Mignon was crisp on the outside and flavorful, soft on the inside. The lobster was tender and broiled just right, letting go of that sweet fishy taste. The lobster was served split open and flat with a side of butter, although the butter added barely anything to the already flavor-filled lobster. The steak and lobster each separately was delicious, but when you ate both together you are guaranteed to get a whopping sensation in your stomach. I finished everything on my plate.
I decided that it would be a good idea to come back to Palm Too and try some of the other traditional Italian dishes. I could of course also eat at one of the other 28 Palms all over the country or in Mexico and Puerto Rico.
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