ALL of our Restaurant Week reservations were a bust! We simply could not get to them!
But here we are – Valentine’s Day. Spork and Knork are working. What are a Fork and Spoon to do? Well, we
gleefully sadly soldiered on without our beloved Cutlery by our sides. Truthfully, this is our 4th Valentine’s date. Ssssshhhh, our secret.
We have been dying to get to April Bloomfield’s Breslin Bar & Dining Room for AGES. We have been thwarted by schedules, weather, people thinking the menu is too exotic, kids, spouses, illness, and more silliness than any Fork and Spoon should have to endure.
The Breslin is tucked into the corner of the Ace Hotel on West 29th Street. The hotel is hip and funky. The Breslin is definitely funky – very old New York pub type of feel. All dark paneling, comfy leather banquettes, dark beamed ceilings, fabulous pressed glass partitions, pig and stag art hanging from the walls. There are a few very cozy booths, complete with checkered curtains. There is also upstairs seating, but we didn’t have an opportunity to check it out.
They take no reservations at the Breslin, so if you’re going for dinner, we suggest you get there slightly before 5:30, add your name to the list and wait. They are also open for lunch and brunch. You can wait at the bar, or in the ultrachic lobby of the Ace Hotel.
We were 3rd or 4th on the waiting list. The anticipation was maddening. In true Fork and Spoon fashion we had the menu memorized and already had an ordering plan ready.
When we reached the top of the list, we asked the host to seat us at a table on the end. Fork is really not comfy in close cutlery drawers. As he was showing us to our table we spied a table for 3 that was also a corner banquette. This was just our style. We gave him our cutest Cutlery shine he looked around and said, okie dokie. By the way, it really and truly does pay to be nice and friendly to the folks you want to seat you – does a smile hurt, no.
Our waiter, Nico G., was terrific. Friendly, knowledgable, attentive, all the things a waiter should be and more. A waiter or waitress’ attitude really sets the tone for how enjoyable the meal is going to be. Although, quite frankly, I don’t think ANYTHING could have changed this tone.
Fork ordered a Rush of Blood to the Head cocktail. Poor Fork needed a drink – and this was some drink. Prosecco, blood orange liquor, hibiscus syrup and lemon zest. Cool, bitter, a little sweet, perfect before dinner.
Both Fork and Spoon ordered iced tea. Not bottomless. They allow one free refill and then charge you for the third. A wee bit silly. Really, if you sat there during your meal and drank tea after tea after tea after tea, you might, after 10, have consumed $1.00’s worth of tea.
So, off to the food …
To start, we ordered Boiled Peanuts Fried in Pork Fat. Just so wrong on so many levels, but how can one pass by anything that involves nuts and pork fat!? The peanuts were boiled in their shells. Once boiled they are thrown in a pan with rendered pork fat and fried. As if that weren’t enough, they are then sprinkled liberally with sea salt. Oh, yum. So good, you wanted to lick the shells. Being the refined cutlery we are, we waited until no one was looking and licked the shells! The peanuts inside were soft and savory. Really made your anticipation of things to come even more heightened.
Our next dish was a Beef and Stilton Pie. Tiny little pie, perhaps 3″ in diameter and 2″ high. We sort of glanced at the pie, tilting our heads to one side like the RCA dog, and made a little face, thinking ‘good thing we ordered other things.’ Cut the little pie in half, peered inside, stuffed full of beef with ribbons of stilton running through. The aroma was breathtaking. The first bite nearly brought tears to our eyes. The pastry was amazing, flaky, tender, but still holding up to the ingredients within. The short ribs were so tender and flavorful chewing was almost unnecessary. The stilton gave it just another layer of lovely flavor and savoriness. This was unctuous to the nth degree. We know why this little tiny tart is so tiny. You couldn’t possibly eat more than that tiny little tart. It is so rich that you would fall into a coma – a happy come, with a smile on your face, but a coma just the same.
Next came a Miticrema Bruschetta with Chargrilled Greens & Speck. Put the word Speck in a dish and we’re just sold. Speck is a juniper flavored ham – really just a type of prosciutto. The Speck stood alone, but a little bit on the miticrema and toast. Sigh. Miticrema is a Spanish soft cheese, almost like a cream cheese. It’s a tiny bit salty, a little acidic and bitter, and – if you can imagine – a little sweet. It has a wonderful flavor and mouth feel. This was slathered on toast (great bread from Balthazr) with a drizzle of olive oil and pepper. The chargrilled greens consisted of Radicchio and escarole with pepperoncino thrown in for good measure. This was an amazing dish. all the flavors playing so well together and on their own.
The one dish that had been at the top of our Breslin list from the very beginning was a Chargrilled Lamb Burger. Served on top was feta and red onion slices, tucked on the side was cumin mayonnaise. To pull the entire dish together were thrice cooked fries. Holy McMoly were they good. All I have to say is duck fat – you get the rest. Crisp on the outside, meltingly tender on the inside – and duck fat. The burger was on one of the best burger buns I have ever had – crispy, crunchy crust, tender inside, held up perfectly to the lamb burger. The burger was seasoned really well and cooked perfectly. What could be better with lamb than feta and red onions. This totally lives up to our expectations.
DESSERT! There’s always room for dessert, isn’t there. The Cutlery theory is that there is definitely a separate stomach compartment for dessert. You don’t have to believe us, but that’s our theory and we’re sticking to it.
First up – Brioche Doughnuts. Doughnuts. Little perfect spheres of fried dough. Rolled around in sugar until they scream until. Spoon actually expected me to share. Being Valentine’s Day and all, I shared. The doughnuts – which would have been perfect all alone – were served with little ramekins of salted caramel, chocolate, and maple butter. The salted caramel was the best. Buttery caramel, lightly salty, perfect. The chocolate was bitter. Not sweet enough for this. The bitter chocoalte was just a little offensive. The maple butter was pretty good too. There were nice undertones of warm spices in there. They switch around the dipping sauces, so don’t hold us to them!
Dessert No. 2 – not so much. It wasn’t terrible. But after a meal of fireworks this was a dud. We ordered the Brown Butter Hazelnut Tart. THe tart had poached pears on top and is served with a scoop of chocolate ginger ice cream. The flavor of the ice cream was great. The consistency of the ice cream was really strange. It was very dry and chalky. Very weird texture. The tart shell was amazing. It was crisp and yummy. The second you put it into your mouth you could taste the butter. The poached pears on top of the tart were not cooked enough. Fortunately this was a teeny tiny sliver of tart.
The tart was the only unremarkable part of a fabulous meal. We already have our choices made for our next trip back. Go there! Fabulous! Hurry!