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Allen & Delancey


weinoo
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I stopped by this newly opened restaurant on Allen St. just north of Delancey the other night. Neil Ferguson, late of Gordon Ramsey, is the chef. Been trying to open for about a year, I guess. Sat at the bar.

Cocktail list has a bunch of spins on real cocktails (some sort of aviation, another sort of manhattan, etc.) - none of them looked great to me, so I ordered an Aviation ($12), which I then had to tell the bartender how to make...and it came out fine. Didn't sample any of the other cocktails, as I had a glass of unremarkable Pinot with my dinner, and had just come from a gallery opening where I'd had a few beers. I mentioned to an owner or two (very busily working on a laptop at the end of the bar) that they might be better off actually making classic cocktails, rather than spins on said cocktails.

Started with the terrine of guinea hen, ham knuckle and foie gras ($18) and it was really good. Big portion, easily sharable. It came with a couple of toast points, so I asked for real bread, and they obliged by bringing over two in-house made rolls which were great - including one that had bits of bacon in it - how could that be bad?!

Moved on to the slow roasted pork belly which was another winner (around $24). Love to tell you more about this dish, but...

Great looking space - but I question whether a restaurant, trying for this caliber and price level of food, is going to be able to make a go of it on a rather, shall we say, decrepit stretch of Allen St. Time will tell - and maybe a good burger on the menu isn't a bad idea?

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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Mitch, given the rapid changes in the character of the Lower East Side, I would never bet against anyplace based on the current decrepitude of the location.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Mitch, given the rapid changes in the character of the Lower East Side, I would never bet against anyplace based on the current decrepitude of the location.

Ahhh, Michael, very true - after all, when WD-50 first opened, that block of Clinton may have been considered scary, too.

But, that said, they probably need to be very busy and pretty quickly to make a go of it!

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Had dinner last night at A&D. Overall really excellent.

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The space is extremely warm and inviting once inside. Long front bar in the front, seperated by a small corridor to 2 main dining rooms in the back. The brick walls and numerous candles give it a very cozy feel. Even though the room was fully at capacity when we left, the noise level was completely bearable.

Started off with a cocktail at the bar -- their variation of a sidecar. Their tweak on it was using chartreuse, but if that wasn't good enough, they use VEP! It was great.

Since we were 4 people we had the chance to try quite a few dishes.

We had the hamachi, terrine, leeks, bone marrow and raviolo. The bone marrow and terrine with the hands down winners. The bone marrow was removed from the bone, so you basically had a composed plate of bone marrow -- almost in the form of little meat butter gnocchis. The terrine was amazing, layered pork and guinea hen, wrapped in cabbage(?) and basted with maple syrup. The aroma from this was perfuming the entire room when it was brought out.

The one slight miss was the raviolo. I found the filling to be slightly dry, but otherwise tasty.

For mains we had:

Dorade, Duck, Pork Belly, Lamb

All were hits, excellent composition of the plates, well balanced flavors and excellent excution overall. The pork belly (which I had) was great, crispy top layer, melting fat layer underneath. They based the top of the pork with a fenugreek reduction again giving off an amazing perfume to the entire room when it was carried through.

Deserts were:

Chocolate, pineapple and fall fruits. No really misses here -- for me personally, the best part of the deserts were the ice creams. The angelica ice cream as well as the olive oil were to die for.

Overall, given they have been open for a little over a week, it was a pretty amazing meal. The service was spot on, and the kitchen was definitely firing on all cylinders. I highly recommend going before it becomes impossible to get a reservation.

I did try to take some pictures, but even with a slow shutter speed and high iso, the pictures were too dim to get anything passable.

John Deragon

foodblog 1 / 2

--

I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

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This restaurant is really expensive for the area and evidence of the increasing effects of gentrification (as is the new place on the former site of Frutta di Mare, 4th St. and 2nd Av.). In particular, the appetizers are freakin' expensive on that menu! How big are the portions? Would it be possible for two people to have a meal of two appetizers, a shared main, and a dessert or two?

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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I stopped by tonight, sat at the bar and agree with some of the comments but disagree with others. For one, I didn't find it expensive, especially in regard to the generous portions. I thought the food was well excecuted but ordinary. My cocktail was delicious, but I have a feeling the bartender is limited to only mixing the few on the list (He had trouble understanding another guest's request for several well known liquors). The wine list is very limited, to the point of disapointment and the menu is short. But, considering how well the food was prepared, I will return on one of those occasions when I don't want to think too much about what I am eating. The space is cluttered, but warm and they have wisely blocked the view of the street.

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How big are the portions? Would it be possible for two people to have a meal of two appetizers, a shared main, and a dessert or two?

This would not be a problem - both courses I had (an app and a main) were quite generous...and along with the house-baked rolls, quite filling. And I didn't have dessert, so I can't comment on that.

RobinsonCuisine - although I didn't have one of the house specialty cocktails (johnder did, and really liked it - see above), I have to agree about the limitations of the bartender, at least the night I was there.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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The food portions are on the larger side, I was definitely full after having the app and entree. I was coerced into getting desert by the rest of the table.

I agree with the wine list -- it is limited and on the pricey side. From what I remember the least expensive red was in the high 40's.

John Deragon

foodblog 1 / 2

--

I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

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I'm pretty new to the area but the prices don't seem that out of line with what I've experienced thus far. Restaurants in a similar class (a can of worms word?) are all pretty comparably priced. WD-50 is more expensive, Falai is a touch cheaper unless you get app, pasta, and main, and THOR is pretty similar. Schiller's is cheaper by a bit, but it's also a different sort of place. And the cocktails are not cheap at The East Side Company Bar or Milk and Honey. It appears that there aren't as many bargains in the Bargain District as there used to be.

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I've never been to the place, but johnder's report makes me want to go. Still, with not a single main over $30, I'd say that's far from excessive. Again, I haven't been to see the space or get a feel for the service, but, as they say, $30 is the new $20.

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I'm pretty new to the area but the prices don't seem that out of line with what I've experienced thus far. Restaurants in a similar class (a can of worms word?) are all pretty comparably priced.[...]

I think that's the issue right there. The class of restaurants with appetizers all over $10 is increasing in this area. To me, that's pretty pricey for the area, but that's because I'm NOT new to the area and am experiencing the results of gentrification here as a change. Some of the results have been very good for me as a diner (starting with a place like Col Legno and extending to places like Lavagna and more recently, Pylos -- and Hearth, when someone else is buying), but I'm being increasingly priced out, as the cheap hangouts like the old Leshko's and Teresa's are being forced to close and places charging prices comparable to Allen & Delancey are gradually but increasingly taking their place. So it's really a matter of perception. And in this equation, portion size is an important consideration, because some $25 worth of appetizers plus about the same for one main amounts to some $50 plus tax and tip, without considering drinks or dessert ($10 per, so make that $70 plus tax and tip before drinks if we have two desserts), whereas adding another ~$25 to that for another entree is real money to some of us. But I don't want to bore you with more such talk. :wink:

Edited by Pan (log)

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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I've never been to the place, but johnder's report makes me want to go.  Still, with not a single main over $30, I'd say that's far from excessive.  Again, I haven't been to see the space or get a feel for the service, but, as they say, $30 is the new $20.

Depends on your income, Bryan. But yeah, inflation does have to get taken into account. The thing is, people who regard $30 entrees as expensive also regarded $20 entrees as expensive, when their value in current dollars was the same.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Yes, of course. It was meant as a somewhat tongue-in-cheek comment. But when I saw the menu, I was actually surprised to see no mains over $30. To me, it seems rare for a new, serious (none of this small plates song and dance) restaurant to open with mains less than $30. Of course, that's based on purely non-random observation.

I do agree that, considering the prices of the mains, the apps do seem a couple dollars higher than I'd expect. Then again, price is not likely to be major draw for this restaurant. It seems to have priced itself at the going market rates.

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Bryan, I find your use of the phrase "serious restaurant" interesting. Perhaps it would be interesting to have a thread discussing what makes a restaurant in New York "serious."

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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So, with this discussion starting to veer a little, I started a thread on prices in New York here.

Let's try and keep this thread to discussing Allen & Delancey in particular - thanks!

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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I've been twice during the past couple of weeks and personally, I like it. Favorite dishes include the bone marrow, raviolo and dorade. I think it definitely fills a void in the LES dining scene. Yes, there's WD-50 (which is lit like a school cafeteria) and maybe Falai, the Orchard, etc. when talking about other "thoughtful" cuisine, but A&D will hopefully will be the hip, sophisticated place that I think Stanton Social tried to be, but failed miserably at. Great atmosphere - it's sexy, without being intimidating or trying too hard. One gripe - I hope they do something with their cocktail menu - the variation on an old-fashioned I had was pretty poor. I switched to wine after that, not wanting to try another cocktail.

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  • 1 month later...

Had dinner at Allen & Delancey this evening, after PDT and before the Goldfarbian experience at Michel Cluizel. Stuck between these most distinctive of gustatory experiences, A&D was perhaps bound to be overshadowed when directly compared. Still, this is a cool, sexy restaurant with very solid cooking. I don't really dine in this type of restaurant--trendy, dark, loud, candles, faux chic, relatively simple food--but I liked Chef Ferguson's cooking at Gordon Ramsay at The London, so I wanted to give this a try.

All in all, the space and decor work very well. Again, not exactly my typical dining location (and, if pressed, I'd say I prefer Tailor's cleaner take on vintage chic). The tables are somewhat close to one another, but it builds a vibe that's generally convivial and festive. It's like a big farmhouse in the city.

Started off with an Autumnation cocktail. After PDT, this was bound to fall short, but I enjoyed it. Not advertisted on the menu, this was a warm cocktail, so I was taken aback when I first grabbed the glass it was served in. It was quite cold on our walk down 1st Ave., so this temperature surprise was welcome even if the cocktail lacked some complexity. It was fundamentally rum and good spiced pear cider. No better, no worse.

For starters we selected the bone marrow and the terrine. It appears the marrow presentation has changed. The marrow has been removed entirely from the bone and is topped with the caviar (as opposed to being served side by side). The salinity from the caviar worked well, and I thought this was a refined take on a rustic dish. My companion, something of an Anglophile, preferred the definitive version at London's St. John, but still saw the merit in this dish. The portion was perhaps a bit small, however; I would've preferred more marrow and less caviar in this value proposition. The terrine was also quite delicious and more refined than one might expect. Again, not as meaty or soulful as a traditional terrine, but I appreciated the flavor and textural differences across the layers. Very nice.

Mains were delivered but delivered incorrectly. We had ordered the beef, cabbage, and onion dish and the duck dish. Perhaps our server misunderstood me over the slight din, but we received the pork. Not really paying attention, I took a bite, and it was quite good. But because I had really wanted to try the duck, I requested my original choice be brought out. The mix-up was handled smoothly and relatively quickly but still threw off the pace of the meal. By the time the replacement duck was brought out, we had already finished most our beef and the remaining portion had grown quite cold. Not optimal, but such is the territory of a misunderstood order. Both the duck (and its accompanying slice of foie) and beef were superlatively meaty. This is assertive cooking with just a whisper of a light touch. The beef, especially the braised beef wrapped in cabbage component, was a bit bland, but did allow for the beef's natural flavor to come through. I'm not sure if this was on purpose or not.

All in all, a solid dining experience. Culinarily, probably on the border of one and two stars. Dining at one of the recessed banquets could definitely make the experience and push the restaurant into the definite two star range. I really liked the food but perhaps missed a bit of the balance between heartiness and lightness Chef Ferguson featured at GR. Here, the emphasis, with good reason, is on the former, and the result is largely successful, if not exactly to my preference.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Bruni drops the deuce on A&D.  This is the second week in a row that Eater has made the wrong call.  I would've predicted two based on his preferences.

I predicted two also. My sense is that A&D is offering the kind of "hearty rustic" cuisine that Bruni loves. I also think that its sub-$30 entrée price was designed with Bruni in mind, given that his version of the star system is especially price-sensitive.

On top of that, Gordon Ramsay must have thought that Neil Ferguson was capable of running a NYT four-star kitchen. Obviously he proved to be wrong about that, but he couldn't have been that far off. At A&D, you're getting a chef of that calibre, at less than half the price you'd pay at Ramsay's own restaurant.

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Bruni pretty much says that the difference between A&D and GR is mainly one of price.

I think that sort of trivializes what Bruni says, because Ferguson wasn't serving those dishes (or anything really equivalent to them) at GR. After all, at GR Ferguson was the implementer of Ramsay's cuisine, but at A&D he's running his own shop. I don't think GR, at least as originally conceived, was going to really float Frank's boat at any price.

Bruni does mention the prices at A&D, and he should, because these days it's rare to find a restaurant of even modestly serious ambitions where there are no $30 entrees.

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2 stars is right on for A&D.

An amusing subject came up during dinner last week. As a group of us were finishing up our entrees at A&D, we started discussing that as romantic the restaurant's atmosphere is, the rich food is not helping your chances of post-dinner... ahem, fun. If both of you are falling into a buttery food coma before dessert has hit the table - this does not bode well.

The hamachi starter is basically the only light/healthy dish on the menu. Even the fish entrees come dressed with rich sauces, etc. And did anyone see the breakdown of the Beef, Cabbage and Onion dish that NYMag did a few weeks ago - holy crap, I almost had a heart attack when I read that. Some things are better left shrouded in mystery.

Normally, I order with no regard to calories or fat grams (basically anything with foie gras makes the cut), but sometimes I'll feel like something sprightly - something that makes me feel like I've made a responsible dinner choice. I wonder what all the model types do when they stroll into A&D for dinner...

A bar menu might be a nice addition. I've seen quite a few people eating a full dinner at the bar, but it would be a friendly gesture to have a small menu of nibbles for those folks who walk in for a civilized drink or two.

My two cents.

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