Friday, date night. I've been looking forward to starting my "Holiday Wish List" with The Breslin – a much-hyped new restaurant at the Ace Hotel. The food is "gastropub", which is high quality pub grub, roughly translated. Think: fried egg, lamb burger, oxtail stew, seafood sausage, sweetbreads, etc. The Michelin Guide was very generous to award it a coveted star (out of 3) for their 2011 review, when New York Times rightfully had given it 1 star (out of 4). My experience borders closer on the 1 NYT star, and this is why: 1) the noise level is deafening throughout the restaurant, but especially at the bar, where it is a mandatory 1-hour wait for the table. 2) The Breslin doesn't take reservations (unless you are a guest at the Ace Hotel) so any chance for a quick walk-in table is doomed. The Maitre D' did not make smart seating choices, since she was too busy texting on her phone throughout the night. Her crowd control was poor, and the waiting guest spilled into the dining room, ready to colonize at any moment if the tables didn't move quickly enough. 3) The dining room was quite dark, but it did not hide the playful ass-groping between FOH emplyees (serving that much meat in a restaurant will bring out anyone's animal instincts, even if you are vegan.) 4) They didn't have pig's foot, which was the sole inspiration for my journey. The menu changes every day, so one can't hope for consistency.
Overall the food was nice, but too heavy on the oil. I suggest forgoing the "popular" Scotch Egg as a starter – a soft-boiled egg encrusted in a 1/2" thick sausage meat placenta, breaded and fried. One bite is enough, but the actual thing is about 4.5" in diameter, hence 12 bites. That is a heart attack on a plate, simply put; it is way too big, and I would prefer for it to be served as amuse-bouche, or at least substitute the large egg for a tiny quail egg. Moving on... I ordered the sweetbreads with lentils (the meat was also fried, oh joy) and an oxtail stew with grilled beef tongue and tempura (fried, again). The former was nicely done, and the flavorful lentils complimented the sweetbreads well. The later was somewhat lean (not really, but at least it wasn't all fried), but it still made me feel bad for negating all good I've done to my body by working out with a trainer for the past 6 months. Alexander ordered the smoked pork belly roulette on top of mashed potatoes with fried (!) bacon on the side (total food porn.) Yes, it was delicious, and well-done, but I knew where that pork belly was going to end up (on me, since I eat at least 50% of what's on my husband's plate. I now need 2 trainers.) There was no talk of dessert, since that would just be too damaging to our girlish figures in the long-term. A few glasses of wine, and the check was a brisk $150, which made me frown on the damage that's infiltrated our financial body as well.
I will not be coming back there, and I am not itching to try The Spotted Pig either. Gastropub isn't for me. You can find me around the corner at John Dory (what's up with that website, btw!?), the oyster bar at the Ace Hotel.
What was your experience like?
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