Saturday, April 21, 2012

C is for: Charlie Palmer's Burritt Tavern {Restaurant Review}

I was expecting Burritt Tavern to hit a home run. Instead, I felt like it was a solid stand up double.

Pardon the baseball comparisons, but that's the best way I can describe my experience there last night. My longtime friend Jake was in town with his lovely wife Janel. Wanting to be a great host, I poured over possible restaurant reservations, making one at Delfina and another at Park Tavern. But Jake preferred to eat earlier than 9 o'clock and stay closer to Union Square, where they were staying. My friend Jason suggested the newly opened Burritt Tavern by renowned chef Charlie Palmer.

First off, I love the vibe of the place. It's got that speakeasy feel, with exposed brick, large old photos adorning the walls and lots of dark wood accenting the entire bar and restaurant. The drink list is interesting and well thought-out and totally fits the theme of the place. I ordered one with rye whiskey, cherry herring, sherry, fernet and chocolate bitters. I'm usually not a fernet fan, but somehow this drink all worked together very well...sort of like a subtle chocolate covered cherry. We were lucky to snag a private booth along the wall, that comes complete with a little curtain if you prefer to dine in privacy. Background music is provided by a three-piece jazz band and you definitely feel like you are transported to another place and time.


The food was good. Probably my favorite dish of the night was the fried brussels sprouts salad (top left). My love of brussels sprouts is well documented on this blog, and this dish was no exception. I loved the addition of Chinese sausage. Jake and I split this and easily cleaned our plates. Janel got the Bibb lettuce salad (top right) and creamy polenta (bottom right). I got the sea bass (bottom left) and Jake ordered the filet (middle). Like I said, it was all good food...solid. Didn't blow me away, but we all really enjoyed our meals. (Jake ordered his steak "rare" and thought it was closer to medium-rare, but aside from that it was very tasty). My only real gripe about the food would be that it was a little pricey for what you get.

However, our number-one complaint was the slooooowwwww bar service. I mean, we're talking 25 minutes slow for a vodka soda (multiple times throughout the meal). They did comp one of our seven or eight drinks, but it was a ridiculous wait time for drinks from the bar (somewhat less for wine, but still not extremely "snappy"). I will totally chalk this up to the fact they had only been open two weeks, but man...they need to get that under control and get another bartender (or two). Our waitress was super sweet, as was the sommelier and rest of the waitstaff. However, there just seemed to be a disjointed flow to the service. Again, this is something I'm sure will get better with time, but it was definitely a problem on our visit.

Like I said...not a home run...at least not yet. But it wasn't a total swing and miss either. I'm definitely open to giving this another try in the future, but if we're going off first impressions, I would've been better off taking my guests elsewhere until they get the kinks worked out.

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