With the younger contingent of my family in town over the weekend, we decided to go someplace new and untested, with a bit more edge than we'd normally prefer if our parents were along for the meal. So, it was into the cars and down to the Marigny for a meal at Bank (2001 Burgundy @ Touro or Pauger). The space itself is interesting in an industrial-chic sort of way, but it was also a bit challenging; the one massive room with 22' ceilings and concrete walls---it was a bank, after all---with stark white paint proved to be a bit disorienting, and the noise level was near-deafening. Once we'd settled in, everyone had a good time, but few wall tapestries would do the place a lot of good, though they'd also break up the sweeping scale of the space...
Anyway, on to the food.
The appetizers were all pretty good; around the table we sampled the oysters both on-the-half-shell and grilled, pumpkin ravioli in brown butter, crab beignets w/ horseradish cream, mussels in tomato broth, and grilled tapenade-stuffed calamari. The clear winners were the ravioli and the grilled oysters, and the only dish i'd say missed was the squid which couldn't stand up to the strong flavor of the tapenade.
Salads were good, but nothing note-worthy. The soup of the day was a warm cream of potato with truffled creme fraiche, which was very tasty and welcome on such a brisk evening.
The entrees were all well-received. The dishes we had were duck with juniper and satsuma, coriander crusted pork loin, saffron linguini with shellfish, hangar steak, and rabbit with herbed spaetzle. On the side we got a couple of plates of the house fries, both with and without the feta-herb sprinkle, accompanied by a nicely spicy aioli. The pork was great, but i think in the final tally, the duck won out. The breast was glazed with the juniper-satsuma sauce, which managed to be tangy without being overtly sweet, and the confit was prefect. The shellfish dish was good, but a bit too similar to the mussel appetizer. The rabbit was nicely prepared (paneed loin and stewed haunch), but it was eclipsed by the absolutely perfect knife-cut spaetzle---one bite and all i wanted was a big slice of sauerbraten and some cream gravy. And the frite were excellent, too---hand cut rectangles about 2 cm x 1 cm, of varying potato-length slices.
The prices, i thought, were exceptionally reasonable. The starters topped out at $7.50 and the entrees ranged from $14 (the pork) to $22 (beef filet). Their wine list was small (15 or 20 bottles) but well chosen, and prices started at around $30. I was especially pleased with the Grunner-Veltiner, which worked almost as well as a chablis with the shellfish, and the pommard was nice, if a bit pricey, at $75.
So, my final thoughts on Bank. It's a nice place for the young (though not necessarily yuppie, and for the adventuresome young-at-heart) but the noise issues and the lighting would not recommend it for a romantic rendezvous. The staff were efficient without being brusk, but not really interested in making friends---a plus IMO---but those who prefer to dine in sartorial splendor and feel pampered by the waitstaff will likely not enjoy the experience as much as we did.
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