Posts Tagged ‘Minetta Tavern’

A buff ,but cordial doorman ,stands shifting his weight from side to side, while a pretty reservationist with almond shaped eyes shares  the aroma of charred beef and uncorked Bordeaux with awaiting patrons. These are images and sensations of Minetta Tavern. This  personified “classic steakhouse meets neighborhood” tavern by  restaurateur virtuoso, Keith McNally, plays for a raucous sophisticated audience and  its routine is flawless. Knowledgeable servers dressed penguin-like circulate hurriedly around the black and white checkered floors, a steadfast all-knowing manager, and a cheeky, yet comedic bartender-completes this cast of Minetta players. Like the set of a 40’s film, the stage is a grand ole tavern with faded frescos of a New York now past. Finishing’s of deep brooding oak enhance McNally’s trademark leather banquettes that are romantically positioned beneath littered charactertures of anonymous old  neighborhood guys that reflect some of these past iconic patrons-nestled tightly around the room- each booth telling a story.  Minetta Tavern was once a haunt for New York poets, writers and educators-opening in 1937 and named for the Minetta Brook which ran southwest from 23rd Street to the Hudson River. Offering an exclusive patronage to the rich and famous is often coupled with a somewhat reclusive attitude when making a reservation, especially when only a private number allows one to do so. I, however, did not experience anything, but prime treatment. Perhaps I was lucky or mistaken for someone very rich and famous.   

Minetta TavernMinetta Tavern 

Photos above by Daniel Krieger http://www.danielkrieger.com/

Co-chefs Lee Hanson and Riad Nasr team together to adequately float the now pride of McNally’s fleet-Balthazar being their maiden voyage together. The Hanson and Nasr team assemble a far cry from the red sauce Italian/American Trattoria menu that once was slopped here on diner’s plates. Today a carefully constructed myriad of primeval gratification that instantly makes the diner hankering and hoggish at the mere sight of the menu. Also subtlety teasing the palate with dainty flashes of hors d’oeuvres like; the Asparagus Vinaigrette [$16] with fresh ricotta, pickled honshimeji mushrooms, marcona almonds, lemon and micro shisu; the Dressed Prawns [ $18 ] with Bibb lettuce, trevise, haricot vert, celery root remoulade; and a delicately fresh Watercress and Oyster Soup [$14]. On the contrast, my table stuck with the gluttonous “Flintstone- like” bone-marrow that arrived on a stark white plate. Two large shin bones gormandized with gelatinous goodness lay before you. If you want to recreate this feeling? Turn your love of food into a Culinary Arts Degree with
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The diner then sparingly spreads onto crusty baguette points and can then be dunked into a shallot confit. The conversation at our table was muffled and interrupted by groans of happiness and content. Other omnivores that were sitting in the vicinity were gorging on other “Grillades” menu items, like the Bone-In New York Strip [$45], Lamb Saddle “Tranche” [$28],Veal “Porterhouse” Chop $36 and the bountiful Dry Aged Côte de Boeuf [$104 ] for two, with roasted marrow bones and sucrine lettuce salad. Typical pommes favorites [Frites and Anna] and a Legumes selection rounded the menu.

Black Label burger cross section @ Minetta Tavern

Above Photo from ExFlexitarian on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=bone%20marrow&w=19832102%40N00

Minetta Tavern

Photo by Kathy YL Chan from Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/kathyylchan/

 Although all of these fore mentioned menu selections are stars in their own right, the crowd pleaser of Minetta, of late has been the Black Label Burger. The clandestine blend, exclusively created by La Frieda for McNally, has been talked about, admired, and unsuccessfully duplicated since its inception. A secret blend of highly selected aged beef cuts is molded into a patty and gently placed on a piping hot flat grill and generously mopped with clarified butter until pinkish red inside. The succulent plump patty is then perched on a soft toasted brioche.-All sounds simple enough because it is just that. The complexity of flavor equals a brilliance and superiority against any other counterpart. At $26 the Minetta Burger may not be eaten on the regular, but should be tried at least once. Furthermore, the quest for the best burger in NYC is now in danger of being completed and sealed. Only time will tell.     
 
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After a burger tasting planned for a well-known burger haunt fell through, I walked aimlessly and annoyed that my burger craving was postponed and prolonged -“What else is in this area” ? I asked myself “Minetta Tavern”, “Five Guys” ? Not willing to deal with the waiting and unsure chance of getting a table at Minetta, or needlessly following the hordes of burger reviewers that flock after Five Guys, I was lost for ideas. Reluctantly I decided to expel my idea of a burger mission, and just go to a normal brunch, perhaps giving my arteries a rest -and maybe order a salad? I noticed that there were swarms of people outside Jane, an American bistro and sister restaurant of  The Smith,  a partnership of Glen Harris and Jeffrey Lefcourt. I asked myself- “Could this have a decent burger”?  I quickly scanned the crowded room hoping to catch a glimpse of other burger fanatics nourishing themselves on my unsuspecting prey. I noticed a guy, about to devour this surprisingly gorgeous specimen, and I was sold. I approached the maitre’d and asked for her next available table, then lounged on the front bench basking in the welcomed sunlight that was beating down on the city. The menu at Jane consists of your usual brunch/lunch favorites: Caesar Salad, Eggs Benedict, BLT and Vanilla Bean French Toast, the latter of which is supposedly their signature. The decor is modern contemporary with wide panoramic windows and comfortable banquette’s along each wall, the scene is a retrospect of Soho-fashionistas meets NYC students, with some restaurant savvy tourists thrown in for good measure.

My party and I were seated in the back of the packed dining room. Excitement suddenly came over me that I had found a great new burger place, my hopes of being the first to discover this new burger find, were dashed when I noticed on my handy Google App , that every man and his dog had reviewed the place!  Happily there weren’t too many distasteful slurs, so I felt confident that we were in for an unexpected treat. The burger was slated on the menu simply as “Jane Burger” with white cheddar, double smoke bacon, special sauce and fries. After careful interrogation of the waitress, I found out that there was a creamy mayonnaise based jalapeno marmalade and tangy green pickled tomatoes hidden in there also. The burger arrived, and was gargantuan! Served on a fat brioche bun with crispy french fries and cheese oozing out the side-I was a happy camper. My first bite was powered by the smokiness of the bacon, and crispy dill flavor of the pickled tomato. This was a novel and inventive alternative, capturing the flavor of a tomato and a dill pickle together. The beef was 100% ground sirloin, that was dripping with juices which quickly ran down my hands and forearms, like a rapid river. This was good in a way, because it told me that the burger was juicy and full of flavor. However it also told me, that my last bite could likely be dry. The flavor and texture was above average and I enjoyed it immensely, savoring every bite, unfortunately the last few bites were definitely dry, and drained of  juices. This tiny detail may seem trivial, but previous giants of the burger world have been known to avoid this paltry dilemma.

Jane restaurant is the perfect place to enjoy good decent brunch fare, while shopping in Soho, or maybe before catching a frou-frou artistically saturated film at the Angelika ? On the weekend expect to wait 10-15 mins. for a table, but if it’s a nice day you can work on your tan, take your mind off the stresses of life, and gawk at the brunch searching masses walk by, undoubtedly on the hunt for something fabulous and ever so popular. Well next time you’re in Soho and on that same hunt, the DMANBURGER say’s “look no further than Jane”.

Jane