BTH (By the Hudson) is like a young colt, appealing while struggling to find its footing. I'm rooting for it to grow into a handsome thoroughbred because it has so many attributes going for it; meanwhile, it needs lots of love and better oats. The setting is fabulous with a view of the Hudson River practically right out the window. Getting there on foot from the #1 subway is a little sketchy as the street is dark, something the charming co-owner, Fernando Reynoso, assured me would be rectified by neighborhood efforts which include the Columbia University Expansion program.
The room is stunning--spare and elegant with dark wood tables and a large circular bar with split rock siding. One of the (uni)sexiest bathrooms in town as a line of closed-door stalls, a wall of glass basins (one not working) and a chalkboard, presumably for leaving messages to fellow diners.
BTH has been open only a month; once it picks up steam, my guess is that additional waitstaff will be added. As it was, our server was seriously charming but spent so much time chatting that it was hard to get his attention. On the plus side, when we left, he hailed a cab and saw us into it. (You can drive and avail yourself of valet parking right around the corner at 69 St. Clair Place.)
The Yorker, a trio of small tacos with a choice of chicken or mahi- mahi with spicy slaw, made a good starter as did the carrot/radish "carpaccio" with parmesan, more a salad of crisp, thinly sliced veggies. Other app choices such as crab cakes with a guava sauce and cerviche with the fish marinated in lime, lemon and orange juice are appealing with bright Latin touches.
My entree, "The Lamb" was three chops, crusted in pepper and served over fingerling potatoes. My dinner companion opted for the scallops on polenta. We asked for both to be returned to the kitchen for a little more cooking which upped the tenderness of the very good lamb and gave the scallops a needed finish. A side of asparagus was tender and delicious. The stunning couple at the next table had raves for their surf and turf with vanilla bean butter (him) and the salmon (her.)
The cocktail list shows off flamboyant house drinks like The Fancy, vodka with various fruit juices and The Firecracker, Tito's Vodka enlivened with a kick of cayenne. The wine list is deliberately small but well-chosen by Sommelier Chris Sapeinza, a former Marine and Dessert Storm veteran who clearly knows his way around a bottle. Executive Chef Lusianie Otero is on her way both in the kitchen and the world, mentoring, other women chefs in a field still largely dominated by men.
BTH open for dinner Monday through Thursday from 5:00-10:30pm; Friday and Saturday from 5:00-11:30pm and Sunday until 10:00pm. Weekend brunch is served Sat & Sun 11:00am-3:30pm with live jazz on Saturdays. Here's hoping BTH can stay in the race because it has many factors that can lead to a winner.