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The Wallflower


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#1 Sneakeater

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Posted 29 October 2013 - 06:51 PM

The original concept of the The Wallflower, just off Greenwich Ave. on 12th St. in the West Village, was for it to be a cocktail bar run by Xavier Herit. Herit was the longtime head bartender at Daniel -- to my mind, the single most underrated mixologist in New York. His cocktail program at Daniel was fantastic: elaborate and ostentatious enough for Daniel's douchey uptown clientele, but essentially sound (and willing to experiment). You'd expect the cocktails at a place like Daniel to lean to the sweet, but although Xavier used plenty of fruit, they were always balanced. And interesting. And plain delicious.

He was also an extremely nice guy.

Somewhere along the way, however, Xavier and his backers hired Jared Stafford-Hill, the chef who brought culinary distiniction to Maison Premeire in Williamsburg. The original plan to serve bar snacks expanded.

I was excited about The Wallflower -- Herit and Stafford-Hill are quite a team -- but I had reservations. I was concerned that it would be the kind of place where the cocktails crowd out the food -- where, since you're expected to drink cocktails throughout, the food is simplified. I also was worried, based on what I read, about the menu format: I thought it would be snacky-sharey, the kind of place where you have to order five plates to fill up, as expenses mount and you end up eating more than you wanted to.

I went Sunday night and I am happy to say I was wrong on all counts. They don't (yet) have the greatest wine program in the world, but they're serious about it, and everybody at the bar with me was drinking wine with the food, having cocktails before and after. And, although the menu doesn't make this absolutely clear (you have to look at the prices to figure it out), there is a section of actual main dishes here, so you can structure a meal.

The cocktail list, at present limited to seven or eight but set to expand in the near future, is as good as you'd expect from Xavier. There's some flash and whimsy, but that basic soundness. I especially recommend (so far) the Betty Draper, a gin-based drink with a flavor profile not dissimilar to a Last Word's.

The food is excellent, prepared with great care and a lot of character. At Maison Premiere, Chef Stafford-Hill's French-derived menu focussed on fish. Here, his French-derived menu has meat as well. I started with a really good game terrine, and ended with a deeply satisfying plate of short ribs. In between, I was comped a nearly perfect scallop. It's like Cuisine Bourgeois heaven.

And, one of the best desserts now available in New York: a cocktail called the Bartender's Breakfast, the predominant flavor element of which is Nutella.

The space is pleasant. As you walk in, you face a very small bar, seating maybe six. A warren of small rooms off to the side and toward the back contain a few tables each. The space isn't rambling, however: it's tiny.

Which brings us to what is going to be The Big Problem here: you won't be able to get in. I was going to meet a friend there Saturday night, but she texted me that it wasn't worth my coming over; it was so crowded that there'd be no space for me even if I could get past the door. Sunday was pretty empty -- but once word gets out, that's going to change.

I have nothing bad to say about this place. It's just what I like, done about as well as could be.

COMP DISCLOSURE: The scallop, a glass of a "mystery" wine Chef Stafford-Hill poured for everyone at the bar to guess at, maybe more (I was pretty unobservant by the time the bill came).
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#2 LiquidNY

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Posted 29 October 2013 - 07:02 PM

And the stools?

Man about town.


#3 Suzanne F

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Posted 29 October 2013 - 07:05 PM

So if I'm still hungry after my dinner at Louro on Friday, I should go here?


I don't actually know what a handbasket is -- but whatever they are, singer-songwriters are in the first ones going to hell. -- Sneakeater, 29 March 2018 - 12:06 AM

 

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#4 Sneakeater

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Posted 29 October 2013 - 07:10 PM

If you can walk out of Louro hungry, you're a better man than me, Suzanne.
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#5 Sneakeater

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Posted 29 October 2013 - 07:10 PM

(And if Dave figures out who you are, leaving hungry won't even be an option.)
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#6 Sneakeater

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Posted 29 October 2013 - 07:11 PM

I'm pretty sure you'd like the food here, though.
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#7 Jesikka

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Posted 29 October 2013 - 07:16 PM

Wow, this is an amazing addition to this location...maybe I'll grab a drink there tonight...



#8 Sneakeater

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Posted 29 October 2013 - 07:16 PM

Do.
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#9 joethefoodie

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Posted 29 October 2013 - 07:27 PM

I was going to go last night, but after a quick email exchange with XH, I think he's only there Thursday - Saturday?  

 

Was he there on Sunday night last week?



#10 Sneakeater

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Posted 29 October 2013 - 07:28 PM

Very much so.

Not behind the bar, though. Just sort of working the room.
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#11 Nathan

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Posted 29 October 2013 - 07:28 PM

do you know how late it's open?


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#12 Sneakeater

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Posted 29 October 2013 - 07:31 PM

I think till 1 Thursday through Saturday, till 12:30 Sunday through Wednesday.
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#13 Nathan

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Posted 29 October 2013 - 08:07 PM

Thanks!


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#14 Sneakeater

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Posted 29 October 2013 - 08:31 PM

I would NOT plan on being able to get in on a Friday or Saturday, even late.
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#15 Suzanne F

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Posted 29 October 2013 - 10:13 PM

I would NOT plan on being able to get in on a Friday or Saturday, even late.

Oh well. Louro is Friday.

 

But I was joking about leaving there hungry. Just wanted to know if you thought I'd like Wallflower. :)


I don't actually know what a handbasket is -- but whatever they are, singer-songwriters are in the first ones going to hell. -- Sneakeater, 29 March 2018 - 12:06 AM

 

notorious stickler -- NY Times
deeply annoying and nitpicking -- Molly O'Neill, One Big Table