City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

One Midtown Kitchen: Yes, but is it calamari?


Hi, I'm a lousy iPhone photo shot in poor light!

When we visited One Midtown Kitchen (first time in years) we had a waitress in training. You know the scenario: The serving in training conducts the order, while the trainer hovers nearby, hands clasped behind her back, ready to respond to any situation that might arise.

Our trainee did well — showed her personality, made us feel welcome, and got the money line delivered for a clean sell.

“I like to start each table with an order of our calamari, which comes in a wonderful sweet and spicy glaze.”

“I want the calamari,” responded my 16-year-old dining companion, who was had at hello. Sweet, spicy, fried: done deal.

She looked crestfallen when the dish arrived. “That’s not calamari,” she said, eyeing the strips of breaded cuttlefish steak with contempt. Kids these days! They want tentacles. I ended up eating most of it — innocuous stuff, like strips of sweet-and-spicy foam mattress.

I recognized this dish for what it was — the menu mainstay. The item that has been a house specialty since the day the restaurant opened and would occasion massive rioting if it ever came off the menu. The last update to this dish was Richard Blais’ addition of a swipe of smoked mayonnaise along the side of the bowl before “Top” met “Chef.”

I called One Midtown Kitchen’s current chef, Nick Oltarsh, to see if he’s ever tried to take the calamari strips off.

“My sous chef has tried,” he laughed, “but you know what? It’s popular and people like it. This business is all about making people happy.”

Oltarsh occasionally offers wood-grilled fresh calamari with pork belly or chorizo as an appetizer special, which is much more in line with his own style of Mediterranean-influenced bistro cooking. If you want to taste a more Oltarshian seafood dish, try his delicious seared sea scallops with lentils, fennel and baby carrots in a saffron-kissed fish broth. With this guy running things, it won’t be years before my next visit.

- by John Kessler for the Food & More blog

6 comments Add your comment


November 20th, 2013
4:29 pm

John, I would rather use my minds eye than the eye of your camera for that photo. lol These folks will do just fine!!


November 20th, 2013
5:33 pm

“…innocuous stuff, like strips of sweet-and-spicy foam mattress.”

Hysterical. And now I know what I’m going to cook up for dinner. The dog had better keep a close eye on his bed.


November 20th, 2013
8:21 pm

LOL! The seafood world is filled with Faux foods… skrab to name one… Good on your “little ones” to pick out the posers…


November 21st, 2013
9:15 am

Never had a bad meal at One…great atmosphere too.


November 21st, 2013
10:22 am

John–here’s a color-corrected version of your photo. It’s a little less nasty-looking!

gunga din

November 21st, 2013
4:04 pm

I think that it is hilarious that these restaurants pass off pork belly as high end dining and the food snobs fall for it !!