Friday, November 30, 2012


QUALITY ALERTS!!!  The following review is probably unreliable at best:  the chef has changed at the hands of the management, and the food has apparently taken a drastic turn for the worse.  I'm sure the service remains consistent as I described, so I'm not heartily recommending a visit to this joint.

Bypassing the hype over re-opening buzz, celebrity sightings and it's proprietor's notoriety, I wanted to visit The Beatrice Inn's new incarnation strictly for the pedigree of its new chef, Per Se alum Brian Nasworthy.   I wanted to see what he could do juggling a Kellerian background with a steakhouse-esque format in a trendy, celeb-attracting restaurant on the outskirts of the clubby Meatpacking District.  Open just a few weeks, it's a tough table to procure.  And maybe even tougher to enter once you get there: the door to the west that would appear to be the entrance, underneath the bright neon sign,  is a non-working locked mirage of a door.  The actual entrance to the right, poorly lit, leads down the cement stairs to a cramped vestibule.  Opening that door (by yourself, and it's a bit heavy), however, reveals a smiling maitre d', a comely bar and low ceilings reminiscent of its sister, The Waverly Inn nearby.

Like The Waverly, The Beatrice feigns to be a little full of herself, but at the heart of it all is a pretty solid neighborhood restaurant.  The suspendered waitstaff is charming and affable, but they do enforce their "no photography" disclosure printed squarely on the menu... so I'm making due with some images stolen from Nasworthy's iPhone  posts- other than that, you'll have to use your imagination.  Or else, come for a visit yourself.   You shouldn't be disappointed with your meal, as long as you can afford it and like what's printed on the menu.  Portions are a little skimpy: meat-heavy, to be sure, in true steakhouse form.  And you can't change
Duck pastrami for a salad
 around things on that menu, either.  Chef has them as he wants them, so extra this-or-that or sans-something will be frowned upon.  But he has the plates pretty well thought out, and they are pleasant.  A crunchy wedge salad is fortified with toasty crouton thins and a heavy flurry of Oregon blue.  Surprisingly sweet cherry tomato "raisins" and  thin rings of pickled onion brighten an herby cumin-spiked dressing studded with miniscule baby radishes.  It's a pretty and tasty salad (now Romaine, not iceberg as pictured).   Duck pastrami features in another salad of frisee and mache.  Rich duck breast is spice-rubbed and sliced thick, bedded in a zesty caper-studded sauce gribiche hidden beneath a tumble of greens and crispy fried shallots.

A little like The Waverly's mac 'n cheese (without that exorbitant price tag), The Beatrice isn't too fancy to offer up a burger, and it's a tasty one at that.  The very convex patty and rounded bun demand a good squish to compress it to the constaints of one's jaw, but then the cushiony meat and pillowy bun acquiesce agreeably.  A thin layer of melted white cheddar and the flavorful Prime dry-aged burger blend make up for the thick slice of mealy tomato, but given that it's November, I wouldn't consider that a major flaw.  A landslide of hot, crisp and salty fries cover the remainder of the plate.  On the cheffier side, two delicate lamb chops balance against each other atop a smoky eggplant puree, braised artichokes and cubes of grilled eggplant rounding things out.  Three hulking scallops were richly seared but just this side of rare inside.  Poised amongst a smattering of baby brussels sprouts and shreds of matsutake mushroom, there weren't enough sprouts to share, really, and no side dishes are offered.  Which may have inspired the ordering that burger after our entrees.  Yes, there were just two of us, but half of that us had a voraciously insatiable appetite.  (We did not, however, finish all of the fries.  There was some dignity upheld.)

Not enough, however, to keep from ordering dessert.  And I'm glad I did, because the salted caramel apple creme brulee was excellent.  Tiny nuggets of crisp apple studded the delicate creme, a tactic I've never experienced before.  It was a nice touch to the rich pudding, which was unfortunately a bit weighed down with its thick brulee crust, but the crumbles of salt crystals atop gave the coating a bit of grown-up appeal.    A strong, hearty coffee would have helped melt the sticky sweet, but the joe on hand was a generic-tasting brew.   There is a sundae on hand as well, described as a classic rendition, as well as an assortment of sorbets and cookies.

Lucky for us, Beatrice isn't the snob she could have been.  At least the telephone number is listed and somebody actually picks up.  The exclusivity of The Waverly only shows up here in fits and starts, and is mostly forgiveable.  You might not be able to construct the meal exactly as you want it, but thoes leave you with a little less visual excitement, but maybe my words will inspire you to see what she looks like in person.

285 West 12th Street  New York, NY 10014
(646) 896-1804

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