Sunday, May 1, 2011

New York Report: Minetta Tavern

Every spring I get back to Manhattan (where I spent time as a student) and take some time to see what's new and fun in the Village and adjacent food scene; over the next few weeks, I'll be filling everyone in on my latest trip.

It seems that New York is busting with food, even more than usual if that's possible. There suddenly seem to be a million more gelato places than I remember in the Village, Eaterly (which I didn't get to this trip) towers over Chelsea and the food truck trend has definitely migrated east...I saw everything from a legit looking taco truck to a truck called Kimchi Tacos (gee, where did they come up with that concept?) One place I'd been meaning to get to since my last year's trip was Minetta Tavern in the Village to try their famous Black Label Burger made of all kinds of prime cuts of dry aged beef.

The Tavern has a great old-school feel with lots of polished wood. I arrived early as a walk-in and had no trouble getting a seat at the bar, where I enjoyed a house specialty Dodd Cocktail, a flip made with bourbon, absinthe and peach bitters; I love a good flip (guilty pleasures you know), and this was a smooth and lovely drink; foamy, cool and slightly fruity, it was the perfect thing for a hot New York afternoon. I was less pleased with the Maple Sazerac, a sazerac with maple liqueur. Any maple notes were drowned out by absinthe, which was of the artificially bright green and overly sweet variety (might have been La Fee). As a disclaimer though, I should say that I'm very picky about my sazeracs.

Then onto the burger. Instead of fries, I opted for the punched potatoes, smashed white potatoes fried in duck fat with rosemary and garlic. The burger, served with caramelized onions, was very good, cooked medium rare it was a nice bright red in the center. It had a rich meaty taste but was a bit less funky-beefy than I might have hoped for. It's a high quality burger, but it didn't strike me as a revelation. I'm not sure that it was significantly better than my favorite LA burgers, and at $26, it was $10 more than Comme Ca's burger, for one, though this is New York and a ten dollar mark up from LA is probably just par for the course. The potatoes were quite tasty, but again, not a revelation. I found myself wishing there had been more fried surface area and bits, that they had punched harder.

Overall, a fine meal in a nice atmosphere, but not one that I will be dreaming about.

Minetta Tavern
113 MacDougal St.
New York, NY 10012
(212) 475-3850

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