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Irving Mill


BryanZ
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Irving Mill

16th and 4th-ish

Just off Union Sq.

Irving Mill first opened to mediocre and underwhelming reviews. Much was said of it trying to be like Gramercy Tavern-lite and falling short in that regard. Come this fall, however, Ryan Skeen, ex-Resto took the helm and had been generating some buzz about his porcinephillic menu. Of course, seeing pork on a menu these days is far, far from novel, but some of the dishes I saw, namely the burger and the varied charcroute plate piqued my interest. The place had been just off my radar screen until a new friend suggested we check it out.

So, the space is a bit generic but not nearly as Restoration Hardware as people have made it seem. The restaurant is spacious and feels warm enough even when not full (and far from full it was on Tuesday evening).

Two of us shared the much lauded burger, the small charcroute platter, and the pork toasts. Even the small version of the charcroute platter could be a main course for two, so while three dishes may not seem like a lot, there was plenty of food.

The pork toasts are a nice couple bites of food. A bit flat, but satisfying. Its like ground confit of pork, fried, then toped with an egg dressing and caviar. The salinity was good, but I wanted some acid, somewhere. The burger was very nicely cooked to mediuum-rare, and might well have been rare to some diners. No matter, it was tasty. Not as gamey as I'd heard and perhaps would've liked but for $15 this is a strong version. The fried potatoes that accompanied both the burger (and the platter of meatiness, for that matter) were exactly that, fried potatoes, not french fries as one might more typically expect.

As for the meat plate, it's generous. The ribs may have actually been my favorite item. I kept thinking how this plate was what every Friday's/Applebees/Chili's mixed appetizer plate should aspire to be. But then I thought how a comparison of that nature was not only obscene but unfair to the restaurant. In addition to the ribs, we had boudins blanc and noir, a fried disk of chopped trotter, some veal head cheese (I think) that was a bit too chewy, some pate, and probably some other stuff. After a while, a bit samey (like the Henderson dinner at Noodle Bar) but as far as this type of cooking goes there was at least some variety. I also really liked the violet mustard. Quite the trendy ingredient these days but my first exposure to it.

Dessert was an apple doughnut with cinnamon ice cream. Pretty good, but the apple filling in the donuts gave the pastry a bit of an underdone gooeyness. Not exactly unpleasant but not light and crisp either.

With a glass of wine each, we spent just shy of $50 each. Reasonable enough for what we got. It was election night, but the restaurant was completely dead when we left shortly after 9 pm.

Edited by BryanZ (log)
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Two of us shared the much lauded burger, the small charcroute platter, and the pork toasts.

Choucroute or charcuterie? I'm guessing the latter based on your description (since there's no mention of sauerkraut).

What else looked interesting on the menu?

Christopher

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Here's what the menu PDF says

Charcroute Plate with Mini Boudin Blanc, Mini Boudin Noir,

Crispy Pig’s Feet, Terrine Tete de Cochon, Glazed Shoulder, Pork Ribs,

Pickled Cabbage, Fried Potato & Crème Fraîche, Violet Mustard and Whole

Grain Mustard $22/38

"I'll put anything in my mouth twice." -- Ulterior Epicure
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Choucroute or charcuterie?  I'm guessing the latter based on your description (since there's no mention of sauerkraut).

Exactly. If they're going to put a made-up word on their menu they should at least put it in quotation marks. The dish is charcuterie on top of sauerkraut so I guess they thought it would be clever to combine the two words.

In any case, we ate there a couple weeks ago ... Some of the food was excellent but the entire experience was a bit of a mash-up.

As far as the charcuterie plate, some of it was very good. The tete de cochon was excellent as was the trotter. The boudins had great flavor and texture although I didn't know what the point was in making them "mini" (appeared to be in lamb casing) and the boudin noir was stone cold. The ribs were really good but seemed a bit out of place next to traditional french charcuteries. And I don't know why they decided to throw these perfectly good meats on top of a stack of saurkraut and give it a gimmick name.

Service was week. We alerted our server to the cold boudin and her immediate response was "it's a terrine, it's supposed to be that way." When we explained to her which item on the plate was boudin noir she apologized and took it back to the kitchen. She returned moments later to say that the chef inteneded it to be cold because that's the way it's traditionally done in France. Really? News to me ... maybe she was right (anyone know here?) but cold/congealed blood isn't my thing. Server brought out a glass of beaumes-de-venise after dinner with the slightly clumsy apology "this is for you because you didn't like the sausage." Um .. thanks.

Really liked loved gaminess of the burger although it was a bit on the small side. Accompanying potatoes were a bit unappealing and I'm not even sure they were fried, not a hint of crispness and not a lot of flavor.

I hated the room - especially the upholstery fabric which felt like it belonged in the dining room of the Colonial Williamsburg Marriott if there is such a thing. And the aggressive rock and roll soundtrack made me think that the folks running this place have yet to sit down and have a conversation about exactly what this restaurant is supposed to be all about and who it's supposed to be for.

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I can't hate on the room. Again, it's spacious and not totally awful. That's better for me than being wedged against some banquette. The booths also looked nice, Marriott fabric notwithstanding.

But, yes, soundtrack, bad news. Seriously, this is New York City, at least try. Kevin Drew while eating a pig's tail at Noodle Bar = I feel hip. 90s rock in a somewhat sparsely populated room = I feel depressed.

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Went here last night and ordered a raw bar dish, the charcroute plate, and a side, as well as dessert.

Kampachi with Chorizo, Grapefruit and Smoked Salt - delicious, loved the mix of the meaty with the sour with the smoky. I was afraid the chorizo sticks would be overpowering, but overall I thought this dish was great.

Charcroute Plate (smaller version): Mini Boudin Blanc was weird and mushy...not sure if it's always that way? It was also served cold. My first time trying boudin blanc, so I can't say. Mini Boudin Noir was tasty but a bit too bloody for me but my fiance liked it a whole lot. Crispy Pig's Feet were battered and deep fried squares of awesomely fatty goodness that fell apart in your mouth as you ate it! Yum! Terrine Tete de Cochon was delicious, fatty, not as smooth and spreadable as I'd like but it was seasoned well and tasty, especially spread on grilled slices of bread. Probably my favorite thing on the plate. Glazed Pork Shoulder was an odd circle of meat with a circle of at, and the fat fell off in one piece, this was served cold, reminded me of cold Asian chicken dishes, the main flavor I got from it was salt, overall it was alright. Pork Ribs were peppery and salty, quite well done, but a little on the dry side, and the edges got a bit tough, but the flavor was great. The pickled Cabbage was very nice and a good contrast to all the meat but there was too much on the plate. Fried Potato & Creme Fraiche were OK. I like shoestrong fries. These were more like spiced, baked potato wedges and less like french fries. Violet Mustard and Whole Grain Mustard were very nice accompaniments. I wanted to like this plate more than I did but overall they did a good job and I think it has a lot of potential to get better.

Roasted Squash with Cashew and Bacon was fantastic. Crave worthy. A nice fall dish. Well roasted, really brought out the sweetness. Nice bits of fried brussels sprouts on top, too, as well as carmelized shallots! A must-try.

Apple fritters - I thought these would be donuts, but they are literally circular apple slices, dipped in donut batter, and fried. Tasty but a little odd, in terms of consistency. If you are looking for a straight up fluffy or cakey donut, they ain't it, but they were tasty nonetheless.

Overall, nice, and a lot of food for the price (especially the smaller charcroute plate at $22) but some components could have been better. Worth going back to as the chef continues to tweak, I think.

Also, for those of you sensitive to noise, the entire bar area was crowded last night. They take walk-ins and you can also eat at the bar or in the front-room, which has some two-tops for walk-ins (similar to Babbo's set up).

One thing to note: we were seated in the front on the raised platform by the bar and there was a group of 5-6 women at the bar who were obscenely loud. Loud enough that all 8-10 tables eating in our front area stopped conversation at least once, due to the shrieking. Eventually, they quieted down a little after being asked to keep their voices down by the staff. Also, the space is has a lot of air-conditioning vents, which is poor when you happen to be sitting right underneath one. Luckily, a request to a server got them to stop the A/C.

Edited by kathryn (log)
"I'll put anything in my mouth twice." -- Ulterior Epicure
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  • 1 month later...
Had you eaten the burger at Resto before he left for Irving Mill? If so, how does it compare?

I'm not sure he was still in the kitchen by the time I went to Resto (and I didn't have the burger). This one is killer though.

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