Wednesday, January 7, 2015


Montrachet, which became Corton, is now Batard, Drew Nierporent's latest iteration of the iconic Tribecan space, retaining the signature plaque and recapturing the spirit of that first predecessor.  The curved vine embossing on the walls remain from Corton, though the modernist stark white has been softened with warm golden hues.  The banquettes, too, endure, recovered in deep majogany leather.  Still, I can glimpse through the rectangular portal window that now offers glimpses of  Marcus Glocker instead of Paul Liebrandt, working with the same intense frenzy, however: a distinct contrast with the sophisticated, glamorous lull of the dining room.

   Nierporent always attracts a notable crowd, and there were three celebrity sightings on my visit to Batard.   And the majority of the rest of the crowd was spiffed up for the occasion, contributing to the festive atmosphere.
(No celebs in this picture.)

While not quite as pricey as were its predecessors, it is still most definitely an occasion-worthy destination: upscale, modernized French with a few nostalgic kick-backs, such as their signature Old Dirty Batard cocktail, an updated Manhattan redolent of orange and smooth, spicy bourbon.  The menu can play out in a few directions- its strengths are not relegated to any particular subset.   As solid as a vegetarian-friendly salad of beets "Linzer" were with crunchy, oil-slicked spears of romaine and even crunchier hazelnuts,
so to was a much richer, unconventional tete de cochon, which arrived less tete than croquette, a
 porky, crisp-crusted fritter paired with a slice of the more traditional headcheese terrine.  A braised artichoke embodied the perfect contrast of simplicity and decadence: the earthy choke and humble barley swimming in warm, buttery eiswein sabayon.   A poached egg atop seemed a
 delicate additional until its punctured yolk unleashed its thick, golden richness into the chewy grains below.  

Sweet potato agnolotti, on the other hand, were almost too rich- deceptively delicate in their appearance with their flutter of mild, stemmy sprouts and diminutive size.  They are, however, a dish better shared, for tiny as the innocuous seeming little parcels are, their densely sweet filling and bed of frothy, cheesy mousseline enchant at two mouthfuls but begin to overwhelm after much more than that.  I
 could hardly imagine them in an entree portion, whereas the "chicken noodle" was a more manageable assemblage, despite its unexpected appearance.  More reconstructed than deconstructed as is the current trend, tender lasagne-style noodles wrapped

around confit chicken, creating little mini cannelloni-type tubes, floating in a nourishing golden stock swimming with tender leaves of braised escarole.      Chatham cod had me at "hello",  plated so attractively as four immaculate medallions, dense yet flaky, paired with mild fennel-inflected pasta spun into a dense log, and  rich, fluttery maitake mushrooms with contributed to the rich jus added a table.  Many sauces are bequeathed tableside with true francophilic panache,
 adding both a sensory boost with their intriguing aromas and an air of nostaligic ceremony.  As
such a roulade of veal "tramezzini", shockingly rosy, were furled into thin, pliant crusts like neonate Wellingtons, paired with nutty trumpet mushrooms and tiny crisped orbs of impeccable sweetbreads, an ensemble flavorful enough even without their intense sauce diable, although I wouldn't have allowed a drop of that stuff to go unconsumed.

Dessert paled in comparison, although admittedly the prior courses set a high bar.  There is no indication of a pastry chef, perhaps leaving Glocker to shoulder this responsibility.  Juggling the two might be an overreach of even his laudable talent, although as an Austrian, you would think pastry might run in his blood.  But in the end, delegating a menu like this to a single chef seems like an orchestra with but one page turner.  Thus, an arborio rice pudding was uninspired- a simple, sweet porridge dusted with preserved raspberries that imparted more color than flavor.  Caramelized milk bread achieved a golden sugared crust, but the interior was simply a fluffy egg bread, which when moistened with the
 blueberries and brown butter ice cream accompanying gave it something, it would've been preferable to have the amalgamation included in its creation- tableside completion of a dish has its discernable limits, and in this case the results do not gain advantage from any diy treatment.

But these only imparted a somewhat anticlimactic end to an otherwise superlative meal.  Certainly, enthusiastic exclamation points would've been preferable, but they at least served as solid punctuation to a very well-told story- a story that Nierporent has been able to adapt and transition with the passage of time, much to his credit... and to the benefit of those who visit him.

   239 W. Broadway
New York, NY 10013 
Phone Number: 212-219-2777 

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