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#1 Daisy

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Posted 24 November 2009 - 12:55 PM

The Breslin began dinner service last night, and Blondie and I stopped in to check it out. We arrived early, a bit before six, and opted to eat at the bar which was busy if not packed rather than the still fairly empty dining room. By the time we left a little after eight it was busy if not insanely so, and the bar was jumping.

It's a beautiful space, and we both thought it heavily reminiscent of old-fashioned pubs in Dublin. Lots of dark wood and mirrors, glass dividers on booths, a long, curving bar. The very high ceilings allow a balcony-like upstairs area although I did not see anyone seated up there last night. Just as in a real Irish pub when we arrived the lights were turned up a bit too far; around seven they were dimmed. Lots of kitschy knick-knacks a la Spotted Pig scattered about, but this works for me.

There's a lot of meat on this menu. It never would have occurred to me to have pork scratchings and I am pretty sure these, ordered by Blondie before I arrived, were my first. They were almost addictive, extremely crisp and airy, and as I said at the time they tasted like pig-flavored popcorn. They left the tiniest bit of salty grease on my lips which I was tempted to lick off as a cat would lick its chops.

We followed up with a skate and potato terrine. I had to try this, figuring something with these ingredients would be either a smash or a spectacular fail. It was terrific if the tiniest bit too cold. The skate was tender, the potatoes cooked to the perfect al dente, the both layered with a cream made piquant by capers and the slightest bit of mustard. The ailoli and baby mustard greens served alongside provided perfect contrasts of unctuousness and bite. A winner of a dish.

The lamb burger with feta is a pretty smashing thing as well. Rare, succulent, and served on a slightly crisp roll which stands up well to the very juicy burger even when it is being eaten by a slowpoke like me. We shared it and I would counsel anyone contemplating eating the entire thing to arrive very hungry indeed, the richness of the meat and cheese make it a bit daunting. I also smeared some of the ailoli I am sure was meant for the fries on the bun and thought it elevated the already exalted burger. Now, the fries. Billed as 'thrice-fried'. They are seriously good. Big and squarish, almost like steak fries, very crisp on the outside with an almost fluffy, tender interior that tastes like nothing so much as a really fine baked potato. Slightly mealy, but in a good way. They were almost as good after sitting around for a bit, too.

I saw a couple of things go past that looked quite tempting: Scotch eggs, Caesar salad, big charcuterie boards

The extremely personable bartenders made us a couple of very good cocktails--a Bloody Mary with OTT garnishes and my very classic Manhattan made with bourbon and Carpano vermouth. The wine we ordered by the glass was a grenache,syrah,mourvedre blend from California and was a nice match with the burger and not terribly expensive.

For a total disconnect from this cosseting experience one may venture out into the lobby and the lobby bar which must be navigated to reach the restrooms (very nice wallpaper in there, btw). This space is populated by a crew that appears to have arrived on their skateboards---men with quirky facial hair, women with quirky eyeglasses, many quirky hats on all sexes. Several people sitting at the communal table engaging with their laptops. Noisy as hell. You've been warned.
Sardines aren't for sissies.---Frank Bruni
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The mistake one makes is to react to what people post rather than to what they mean.---Dr. Johnson
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I want to be the girl with the most cake.

#2 Wilfrid

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Posted 24 November 2009 - 02:55 PM

The Ace Hotel is all about quirk.

Looks like meat will still be in style for 2010, what with this and Maialino.

#3 Abbylovi

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Posted 24 November 2009 - 03:18 PM

The graffiti exhibit/instillation (not sure what to call it) is at the Ace Hotel, right? If so, did you see it?
It is better to have beans and bacon in peace than cakes and ale in fear.

#4 Daisy

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Posted 24 November 2009 - 03:52 PM

QUOTE(Abbylovi @ Nov 24 2009, 10:18 AM) View Post
The graffiti exhibit/instillation (not sure what to call it) is at the Ace Hotel, right? If so, did you see it?

No, I must go back and check that out. I live close enough to the place to make that a very easy thing to do. Perhaps one morning while the quirky people are all still sleeping. I wouldn't mind trying The Breslin's breakfast.
Sardines aren't for sissies.---Frank Bruni
------------------------------------------------------------
The mistake one makes is to react to what people post rather than to what they mean.---Dr. Johnson
-------------------------------------------------------------
I want to be the girl with the most cake.

#5 oakapple

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Posted 24 November 2009 - 07:16 PM

It was very clever of them to operate for several weeks serving breakfast and lunch only, as it kept the critics away while they got their act together.
Marc Shepherd
Editor, New York Journal

#6 Daisy

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Posted 24 November 2009 - 07:20 PM

It appears to be a pretty well-oiled machine but that doesn't surprise me given the crew at the helm. I know the bar staff is experienced people from Spotted Pig and other places, I assume the rest of the staff has similar chops. Ken Friedman was there last night and he was working, not just hanging around schmoozing the customers although there was some of that as well.
Sardines aren't for sissies.---Frank Bruni
------------------------------------------------------------
The mistake one makes is to react to what people post rather than to what they mean.---Dr. Johnson
-------------------------------------------------------------
I want to be the girl with the most cake.

#7 Rich

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Posted 24 November 2009 - 08:07 PM

The most surprising aspect of this thread is the author.

Someone visited a new place before The Sneak? Isn't that in violation of a city ordinance?

I'm calling for a complete investigation - this just isn't right. Explanations are needed, heads may roll and the restaurant industry needs to come clean.

#8 Daisy

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Posted 24 November 2009 - 08:11 PM

I hate to disappoint you but it's simply that I know one of the bartenders who tipped me off that last night was opening night for dinner.
Sardines aren't for sissies.---Frank Bruni
------------------------------------------------------------
The mistake one makes is to react to what people post rather than to what they mean.---Dr. Johnson
-------------------------------------------------------------
I want to be the girl with the most cake.

#9 Rich

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Posted 24 November 2009 - 08:14 PM

QUOTE(Daisy @ Nov 24 2009, 03:11 PM) View Post
I hate to disappoint you but it's simply that I know one of the bartenders who tipped me off that last night was opening night for dinner.

But still Daisy, this is a major accomplishment. The last time The Sneak missed a restaurant's opening night, Gary Hart was still presidential timber.

#10 juuceman

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Posted 24 November 2009 - 08:21 PM

QUOTE(Daisy @ Nov 24 2009, 08:11 PM) View Post
I hate to disappoint you but it's simply that I know one of the bartenders who tipped me off that last night was opening night for dinner.


which was especially sneaky 'cause the sign on the door around lunchtime yesterday still said that it wasn't open for dinner yet..

#11 Daisy

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Posted 24 November 2009 - 08:27 PM

I'd bet anything that a sizeable number of the diners I saw last night were hotel guests. Especially those in the dining room. I did run into, in the bar, a couple of the Bar Veloce guys.
Sardines aren't for sissies.---Frank Bruni
------------------------------------------------------------
The mistake one makes is to react to what people post rather than to what they mean.---Dr. Johnson
-------------------------------------------------------------
I want to be the girl with the most cake.

#12 Blondie

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Posted 24 November 2009 - 08:36 PM

Based on the crowd, I'd say very few people had been tipped off. We expected pandemonium, but it was really kind of perfect: buzzing, but not overbearing. I don't think that will last.

For the record, the OTT Bloody Mary garnishes were a tower of treats from Rick's Picks, including smoked okra, spicy pickles and an olive. Everything was really spot on. The food was all as Daisy described. The Extremely Personable Bartenders were also attentive and efficient. I will give them a pass on some of the questionable music selections for now, but otherwise I seriously can't think of one thing to complain about.

BlondieNY.com

 

"Finally something intelligent."


#13 Rich

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Posted 24 November 2009 - 08:47 PM

QUOTE(Blondie @ Nov 24 2009, 03:36 PM) View Post
but otherwise I seriously can't think of one thing to complain about.

Except that The Sneak wasn't in the house.

No restaurant is official until it has been "Sneakenized."

#14 Sneakeater

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Posted 24 November 2009 - 08:58 PM

I was so wasted by the time I got off work yesterday that I went home and had a slice of pie for supper and collapsed into bed.
Bar Loser

MF Old

#15 Rich

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Posted 24 November 2009 - 09:00 PM

QUOTE(Sneakeater @ Nov 24 2009, 03:58 PM) View Post
I was so wasted by the time I got off work yesterday that I went home and had a slice of pie for supper and collapsed into bed.

No, no, tell me it ain't so, Joe.