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Trestle on Tenth


ewindels
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This latest addition to the Chelsea dining scene is housed in the space formerly occupied by Chelsea Commons on the corner of 10th and 24th. The overall vibe – space, service, atmosphere, food – is spare, formal, quiet, sleek, and slightly cold. Bare brick walls are complemented by polished, minimalist maple built ins. The anorexic looking staff communicates in hushed tones and glide about noiselessly, but are nevertheless adroit and polished. At 7PM on a roasting Saturday night, we were one of only four groups in the restaurant, although the small bar up front was seeing a little action by the time we left. There’s also a teeny sedate garden space in back that, when the temperature becomes less infernal, would probably be lovely.

Tables are teeny, and as gorgeous and generous as the water carafes are, there really isn’t room for them on the table amidst everything else. This needs to be rethought.

The food is – if you’ll pardon a posting pun – not much to write home about. New York magazine’s blurb a few weeks ago quoted chef-owner Ralf Kuettel as “not sure what to call his menu, which reflects both the time he spent cooking at restaurants like Union Square Cafe and his idyllic Swiss-farm-boy childhood. But it’s chock-full of all sorts of Greenmarket touches and gastropubby delights like pork-shoulder crepinettes and roast lamb saddle with bacon sauce. And as everyone knows, everything’s better with bacon sauce.”

Well, of bacon sauce (which has was eager to try) there was none, nor had the staff any idea what I was talking about, and our waiter even evinced the just barely perceptible whiff of disdain at the idea. Then again, it would probably not have been a good match for the fine saddle of lamb, cooked perfectly medium rare. Also fine were my terrine of oxtail and rabbit, and my friend’s Bibb lettuce with buttermilk dressing and lardoons. His pork chop, however, was noticeably over salted (too long in the brine?) and overcooked – our table nearly suffered some damage as he tried to saw his way through the thing.

I have a beef with the menu stagings at places like this, though, which is the extra charge for side dishes. And yes, I’m aware this is all the rage, but like the current administration, that doesn’t make it right. $6 each for miniscule platters of green beans and a form of spätzle gratineed with gruyere and onions is a little much on top of the already $20+ each for the entrees, which came respectively with three roasted carrots and a teeny heap of wilted mustard greens. Denizens of the neighborhood – particularly the latest ones – no doubt think nothing of this. That also doesn’t make it right.

Dessert was a blueberry tart no more or less remarkable than you would find at most of the patisseries in the city, and the blueberries were the big bland kind, which seems a shame when proper, wild blueberries with actual flavor are readily available at the greenmarkets (I got some myself that very morning at Union Square, and they were deeeeeeeeeeelicious).

Four each of red and white wines are offered by the glass, and I heartily commend the restaurant’s practice of pouring an initial taste, which allowed me to switch from a surprisingly thin syrah/mouverdre blend to a more robust rioja without incurring charges.

With one cocktail and glass of wine each, an appetizer and entrée each, a shared dessert and tip, damage came to $83 a person. Not bad, although overall not quite worth the quality we got. Certainly not a place that anyone needs to run to. If this place can last till all the Highline construction is completed and all the extremely wealthy residents thereof arrive, it will no doubt do fine. But I personally prefer the more robust and inviting atmosphere and cuisine of either the Red Cat or, especially, Cookshop (my current favorite NY restaurant).

Food, glorious food!

“Eat! Eat! May you be destroyed if you don’t eat! What sin have I committed that God should punish me with you! Eat! What will become of you if you don’t eat! Imp of darkness, may you sink 10 fathoms into the earth if you don’t eat! Eat!” (A. Kazin)

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Thanks for the posting. I tried to do a walk in here two days after they opened and the place was packed and there was a 75 mi ute wait. The menu seemed pricey but since the buzz machine was at full speed for this place we wanted to try it. Maybe we'll wait a bit longer.

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My impression of Trestle on Tenth is pretty much the same as ewindels's (which isn't going to stop me from wasting your time by stating it).

The food is sort of fancified country Swiss. The problem with this kind of cooking is that it takes the soul out of a soulful cuisine. Everything was well-cooked, and the ingredients were of a high quality. But in the end I prefer the funky forthrightness of the kind of food they serve at (I know you see this coming) Blaue Gans (or Lupa, at least before its reported fall-off) to the somewhat cleaned-up cuisine served here.

Details: Appetizer -- crepinette of pork shoulder. This is a perfect example of what I'm trying to say about the food here. Instead of a big-flavored hunkomeat, what we have here is a dainty pulled pancake of pork that tasted sort of . . . delicate. Do we want a delicate pork shoulder dish? Not bad at all, but still . . . .

Main dish -- sauteed veal kidneys in ale sauce with rosti. (You might ask yourself, what am I doing ordering these dishes on a day where the temperature was in the triple digits? I think the answer is that my body is genetically programed to always think it's in Northeastern Europe, appetite-wise, even if its grandparents decided at the beginning of the last century to relocate to New York.) Again, perfectly fine -- but not as elementally satisfying as the veal kidneys at the Spotted Pig, say.

I wish I'd remembered what ewindels had said before I ordered the blueberry tart. It's the most attractive dessert on the menu, but his evaluation is quite right.

And I join with ewindels in being pissed off at the new trend of having to buy vegetables separately.

One indisputable bright spot: the wine, a Swiss white from a grape called amigne. Off-dry, fairly complex (but not too much so for this incredibly hot day), great with the food.

The problem with writing reviews of places you sort of like but don't love is that you never strike the right tone. They almost always end up sounding either more positive or more negative than you mean them to. This one, for example, sounds more negative than I really feel about this place. Nevertheless, while I enjoyed my meal there, I won't be rushing back.

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
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It was funny to see Eric Asimov's column in today's Times (FWIW), cuz I was thinking of ordering a Jura savagnin at Trestle on Tenth last night, but became afraid that my dining companion would think it was too weird. (As I said above, it all worked out for the best.)

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  • 2 weeks later...

I went back to Trestle to see if I could figure out why I like it less than, say, the new Tasting Room. I can't.

I'd say my second meal impressed me more than my first, although the general nature of my reservations about the food here still holds.

This time I started with the oxtail and pig's foot terrine. This was another example of my complaint about this place: they took a dish that's not only earthy, but extremely earthy, and somehow made it seem refined. It wasn't bad or anything -- indeed, it was far from bad -- but it just isn't what you (or at least I) expect.

For an entree, I had the spinach-stuffed veal loin, with rye berries on the side. Their description of the veal loin doesn't really do it justice: it's stuffed more with a lotta minced veal (and some spinach) than with spinach. This is a very satisfying dish. I've never had rye berries before. They're not incredibly flavorful.

On the side, I had something with a German name that can best be described as large pieces of spatzel, with gruyere cheese and maybe (this was a few days ago) mushrooms. This, too, was very satisfying.

I sensibly if uncharacteristically elected to forego dessert.

One other thing that must be noted about this place are the housemade bitters. I think they make three types, but this night they only had one on hand. It was sort of Chartreuse-like, but different. They use it in some of their house cocktails, and you can have a glass as a digestif (which I highly recommend). This is a strong reason to visit Trestle, if you care about that sort of thing. I should also note that the bartender/head mixologist is a complete sweetheart.

Maybe my appreciation of Trestle will rise when the temperature drops and I'm not eating this fairly heavy (although not, arguably, heavy enough) food under tropical climatic conditions. I still have a problem with the basic concept of their food, but I have to concede that this time, I liked it more than my first visit. With so many options, I again don't know if I'll be rushing back. But I wouldn't actively dissuade anyone from trying it (although they might want to wait until October). And there are all those nights when you can't get into Tia Pol . . . .

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
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  • 5 weeks later...

Interesting review. Very little of positive things to say about the food (unless you think a lot of fat surrounding lamb is a good thing), yet it received a star. Read more like a "satisfactory" to me.

Maybe it earned the star because of its interesting wine list.

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

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Actually I've had that dish, and I thought the lot of fat surrounding the lamb was in fact a good thing.

FWIW, I had a problem, when writing about this place, in avoiding sounding more negative than I meant to, also. It's better than "satisfactory". It's just not really really good. (And I did love the wine list.)

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FWIW, I had a problem, when writing about this place, in avoiding sounding more negative than I meant to, also.  It's better than "satisfactory".  It's just not really really good.  (And I did love the wine list.)

Agreed.

Food, glorious food!

“Eat! Eat! May you be destroyed if you don’t eat! What sin have I committed that God should punish me with you! Eat! What will become of you if you don’t eat! Imp of darkness, may you sink 10 fathoms into the earth if you don’t eat! Eat!” (A. Kazin)

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I think Bruni did us a favor here (unlike, say, the Platt review)...I doubt this place was showing up on the oenophile radar before.

I know it got me interested. I'm planning on trying it just for the wine list - when the weather gets a bit cooler.

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

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Interesting review. Very little of positive things to say about the food (unless you think a lot of fat surrounding lamb is a good thing), yet it received a star. Read more like a "satisfactory" to me.

Maybe it earned the star because of its interesting wine list.

As one star has evolved, it means "you can have a good meal here, although you'll have to order judiciously." That and the wallet-friendly price point added up to one star under the current system. Zero stars really means "don't bother," and clearly Bruni felt it was better than that.
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  • 2 months later...
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