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Chef April Bloomfield's The Breslin opens @ Ace Hotel

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So The Breslin opens at long last, at the rock'n'roller Ace Hotel, near the Empire State. Place getting tons of buzz already, because of who's behind it (same owners as Village favourite Spotted Pig, and recently shuttered John Dory). For now, according to Grub Street, they'll serve bkfst and lunch only. Cult chef Fergus Henderson (of St. John fame) is the inspiration for the meat-centric menu. Grub Street says, "Of course, the Brez will be a meat lover’s dream: Fergus Henderson’s pig’s head was one of the best things we’ve ever eaten, and we’re assured a half-size version will be on the menu. "

Would love to get reports from egulleters on the food...

Here, the full blog post on Grub Street

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went last night with a group of 7 and endured an arduous 2-hour wait in the crowded bar area, which wasn't entirely surprising given the size of our party and the attention the breslin has been receiving. still i can't remember the last time i waited over 30 mins for a table. i overheard the hostess quoting an hour-and-a-half wait for a four top. apparently a party of 16 upstairs was slowing the pace of the evening. regardless, the place was mobbed and the crowded bar reminded me of a typical midtown pub during happy hour. we killed time with cocktails and overpriced glasses of pinot noir. the tall ceiling makes the place feel massive. ken and april did a great job with the space and decor. (gothamist's gallery) when we were finally seated, our table was right in front of the open kitchen with a clear view of chef bloomfield and her staff.

the menu is lamb and pork centric and lists about the same amount of items as the pig. here's what we ordered:

malt vinegar and sea salt crisps - comes in a clear plastic bag sealed with a "hello, my name is" sticker with a born-on-date stamp. not greasy, good balance of salt and vinegar flavors, nice crunch. a hit with the table.

spiced almonds - same presentation. rather uninteresting and skippable.

pork scratchings - basically pork rinds in a bag. i believe the breslin is the only restaurant in nyc that offers fresh pork rinds. i wish april's version came out hot like the publican in chicago. either way, i'm getting this on every visit.

scrumpets w/mint vinegar - they were out of the scotch eggs so we got scrumpets – small logs of braised lamb breaded and fried, tender enough to cut with a fork. loved the vinegar dip. again, a hit with the table.

large terrine board w/piccalilli, pickles, mustard - guinea hen w/morels had a subtle sweetness that everyone loved. i found the different textures and flavor of the headcheese remarkable. others at the table beg to differ. both the pork & pistachio and rabbit & prune were enjoyable. excellent liverwurst. no detail is overlooked on the board down to the mustard.

onion and bone marrow soup w/parmesan toast - served in a french onion soup bowl. not sure what the bone marrow added to the soup besides richness as it tasted like your standard onion soup. the parmesan toast was ok. it was overall too salty for my palate.

1/2 dozen oysters - didn't try any but my friend swears by them.

braised shin of beef on polenta & black cabbage - the bitterness from the cabbage along with bursts of fresh parsley worked well with the savoriness of the dish.

lamb burgers w/thrice fried chips, cumin mayo - 5 of us ended up getting this. i'm sure april doesn't want the breslin to be known solely for the lamb burgers but at any given time, there were multiple burgers under the heat lamps. rightfully so. it's fantastic. definitely one of the better burgers i've had. i ordered mine medium-rare and came out cooked to order on a carving board with a steak knife. i believe the bun is sourdough – toasty on the outside, not too thick of a crust, and soft on the inside. could be ciabatta but wasn't tough at all. the patty is packed with lamb flavor with the right amount of fat. super juicy. the feta slice worked well with the lamb. the thrice fried chips are off the charts. thicker-cut fries are generally a disaster but these shot up to the top of my list. nice contrasting texture between the crunchy outside with hints of skin and the soft inside. as my friend says, very potato-y. the board comes with cumin mayo for both the burger and chips and no one dared to mar the flavors with ketchup and mustard.

the wine list is fairly extensive but somewhat on the pricier side. pic st loup for $50 proved to be a very good value.

despite the fact that we were all cranky from the wait, we all loved the meal. i'd like to go back and try some of the entrees for 2. my reco is to go w/2-4 ppl either before 7 or after 9 on a tuesday, which is of course a no brainer for any popular no-reservation spot.

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just went there today. we were lucky enough to sit down right away, i think it was around 7pm. i tried the crisps & peanuts. they were good, but i'm not going to go around raving about them. the peanuts were fun.

i got the head cheese then shared the pig's foot. they were both good. i don't want to compare, but the last time i had pig's foot was at au pied de cochon in montreal. that was in august 2009, but it still runs through my mind. i love april bloomfield and i've been a patron of hers at spotted pig for at least 4 years now. but that pig's foot at au pied de cochon is like a sexy ferrari and the breslin's is like an audi. both good, but completely different levels. to be fair the pig's foot at APDC was stuffed with foie gras and also topped with it. that thing was the definition of ridiculous. the head cheese there also had this deep deep pork flavor. i suppose its the pork. i think Au Pied de Cochon is one of the most satisfying restaurants i've ever been to, in terms of deep strong aggressive food.

i had the eton mess. it was good also. for me the Breslin is a good restaurant, but i'll stick to my spotted.

my waitress at the breslin was fantastic and so were all the workers there.

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Well, it turns out the New Yorker's Andrea Thompson agrees with Gastrodamus. She, too, said that the lamb burger is fantastic, in this week's New Yorker, just out.

She basically liked everything she tried there.About the triple-fried French fries she says

that "they have an ultra-crispy exterior and a creamy interior akin to the mashed potatoes that share a plate with the superb pork belly".

I especially liked the way she ended the review, saying that a woman that she dined there with, after finishing the meal, said: "I'm pregnant with pig!"

That kinda says it all about the place, no?

Edited by AlexForbes (log)

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