My wife and I decided to celebrate my birthday yesterday by going to Jezebel. Overall, the experience was a good one, but I think it fell just short of great. First of all, the building is very nicely located, in a great part of SoHo (in NYC) that is full of energy and character. It's in a brownstone and the first floor is a lounge/bar area while the main dining room is upstairs.
The bar/lounge area is huge--and was sparsely occupied throughout the night--so I wonder how they'll justify dedicating that much space to it but perhaps it will become a shidduch place?
The main dining room had a great vibe, with the much talked about wall art striking a nice balance among irreverent, kitschy, and cool. It really feels like the majority of hipper SoHo/West Village/TriBeCa restaurants, so they definitely achieved that goal, imo.
The clientele was, as to be expected, an eclectic mix, which to me, was part of the fun. Peyos flipped and flopped over a Yiddish conversation at one table while Farsi and baseball caps (removed) were just a few tables away. There were tourists, modox bridge and tunnelers and hip lubavitchers in expensive sheitlach from one table to the next. It was loud, but reasonably so.
As for the food, it was mostly good but as I described earlier, falling just short of great. My wife had a glass of excellent pinot grigio and I tried the very good Brazilian Bikini, which was a kind of caipirinho with cucumber, though came in far too small a portion. We started with the kale chips and the bone marrow. The kale was excellent, with a nice spice kick and just enough saltiness to whet the appetite. The bone marrow, was unfortunately, a letdown. Perhaps it was because I hadn't had it in years and had built it up so much after longingly watching diners (and journalists) wax poetically on its deliciousness at Blue Ribbon just down the street. It was either a weak batch or was overpowered by too many bread crumbs, but it just wasn't rich enough or substantial enough. The accoutrement were delicious so it wasn't a complete loss--pickled red onion, spicy arugula, etc.
For the main course, my wife had the lamb burger and I had the duck confit a l'orange. Each was really good. The lamb burger was rich, with just enough of that merguez-y spice. The french fries were perfectly prepared and the dipping sauce was really good. I didn't try the bun but it looked perfectly toasted. As for my duck, the dark meat was fantastic. It may have been the best duck I've ever had. The glaze, while sweet, was not cloying, as it had just enough of that citric acid finish. The breast meat was a bit less interesting. It was cut up too small and was lacking the richness or flavor (no glaze!) of the dark meat. The accompanying roasted fennel and vegetables were spot on in their texture and presentation.
For dessert, we shared the olive oil cake, which was basically just a pretty good pound cake. I think I would have rather waited a couple hours and had an Entenmann's at home. The lavender ice "cream" was good but the portion was small. The stone fruits were not sweet/fresh enough, imo.
As for pricing, it was high, though not shockingly so. Including everything it was 160. Maybe it's being jaded from living in NYC and area for so long but I'll just say that while high, it wasn't outside the range of a nice night out. And given how crowded it was, I think many people think the same way. Had we cut out the disappointing marrow and my cocktail (truly a special treat for me, a non-drinker), the price would have been around 130.
Finally, a comment on the service. Overall it was strong but not quite excellent. The front of the house was very well run, with surprisingly well-organized reservations via email (though I'd still highly recommend they adopt OpenTable or add a form to the site), a nice host downstairs, strong servers and no shortage of busboys to keep the tables clean and ready. Both apps and the dessert came out promptly, but unfortunately, the main course took a good amount of time. There appeared to have been a glitch of sorts in the kitchen as I saw a manager apologize to a table near me for the delay at the same time.
Main course: A-
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