This is going to be an interesting review to write, as this is a VERY interesting restaurant. It will probably take me a couple of days, but here are some quick impressions.
So far so good, it's already packed on a Wednesday (4th night of service). Several of the dishes were brilliant, most notably the sea bream tartare (when was the last time you saw kidney beans in a fine dining restaurant, let alone in a raw fish dish???). The scallop with pear and poppy seed was also great. Breads are FANTASTIC!
Some of the dishes were less successful. Dare I say even ill-conceived? For example, the periwinkles were an irresistible order, and delicious, but most will never order it again once they realize that delicious thick sauce makes a complete mess of your fingers and there is no finger bowl or wipes to clean up.
The oyster and pig ear roll, well that deserves a whole paragraph to describe how ill-conceived it was.
BBQ pork ribs were excellent, and reminded me of the sticky Chinese 5-spice ribs I make at home.
Several other dishes that I'm forgetting at the moment were also very good. But I thought the rum cake had to much of a raw alcohol flavor (although being Irish I loved the Carrageenan Moss pudding that accompanied it!).
The room, attractive and open, but very loud, even more so when not full (I guess more bodies absorb sound). But the oddest thing is that while going for a "coastal New England" vibe, half the seating ends up being downright anti-female. At least any female who isn't wearing jeans (unfinished pine wood plank benches that will snag any cashmere or stockings within 6 feet).
Excellent cocktails. Not sure why the bar is so tiny, but I'm not a restauranteur. Took some photos of the largely European wine list that seemed long on "natural" wines (things like Sebastien Riffault Sancerre and several Beaujolais), but I'll have to peruse that later.
Service was friendly and knowledgeable, but inconsistent. Our drinks sat empty for a long time, which is money down the drain for the restaurant. And I don't think I've had so many different people serve me during a single meal since the old days at Aujourd'hui. We kept getting asked the same questions by different servers, so apparenlty they need to learn to communicate with each other.
Definitely, a "must go" restaurant, but whether you go a second time will depend on your tolerance of its quirkiness (and maybe your sex). I can usually tell from a first visit on opening night or opening week if a restaurant will be successfully, but the complexity of Loyal Nine's vision makes this a difficult prediction. I'll definitely be back...
More later, and some photos...