If less is more I want more from the Chicken Bone Cafe. No that doesn't make any sense. Everything just seemed too fussed with withou any benefit in taste.
I wanted to like the Chicken Bone Cafe much more than I actually did. The PR machine has generated a ton of positive reviews and press but in the end I just wasn't that impressed. I've read about how they shop around for the freshest supplies from all over NYC. Well it's one thing to have the best ingredients but another thing to know what to do with them. Everything seemed kind of overly conceptualized but underflavored. The house roasted salmon sandwich with wasabi aoli, mesclun greens on a pumpernickle baguette. For all of that effort of roasting, and aioli making it somehow still tasted like canned salmon salad without a hint of wasabi that I could detect.
For smaller dishes we ordered the beef jerky on shrimp chips and the potato, cheese, and bacon gratin. The jerky dish was kind of one dimensional. The jerky was too sweet, the chips lacked flavor. For the same price at Pho Bang on Mott St. in Manhattan you can get a platter of grilled pork on shrimp chips that is just an awesome marriage of flavors and textures. The gratin dish fared much better. It was a nice satisfying dish stacked with golden coins of yukon potatoes and layers of cheesey deliciousness.
The staff seemed kind of self absorbed and more interested in chatting with each other than attending to the customers(all six of us). When I inquired about the Vietnamese Sausage sandwich(actually the sausage was just the crumbled BBQ pork you find on many varieties of Banh Mi) someone I assumed to be an owner went on in great detail about the house made sausages and pickles in the sandwich. When I enthused "oh good, I love Banh Mi" He kind of looked down his nose at me and said "well we've elevated it beyond what you'll find in Chinatown" Well the only thing they've elevated is the price. They didn't notice that even an average Banh Mi like at Banh Mi So 1 , made with commercial ingredients for 2.75 has more depth of flavor than their 8 dollar exotic creation. Portions in general were less than substantial.
By no means am I saying that you wouldn't be able to get a decent meal here.
I'm just kind of tired of these "emperor has no clothes", NY Mag pick of the week type places. It seemed like more of an attempt to bring a taste of Tribeca to Williamsburg than creating a laid back place to hang out and get some fresh, tasty, well thoughtout food for a fairprice.
In case you're interested in trying it for yourself it's on South 4th St. in Williamsburg.
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