One way to give a top notch restaurant a try is to hit the bar. I got my first taste of this at Gordon Ramsey's Maze, which continues to live on long after its parent, The London, shut down. And why not? You get most of the bells and whistles without the hefty tab. Now, it appears to be a trend. The Black Barn, in Flatiron, run by former Waldorf-Astoria Chef John Doherty has created a tavern next to its main dining area while Chef Gabriel Kreuther (formerly of The Modern) is offering a lounge space at his new restaurant across from Bryant Park.
The bar at Gabriel Kreuther is stunning wrapped in tortoise shell-colored marble. Its stainless steel top boasts a sexy satin finish. Bar stools are wrapped in textured white leather offering both comfort and luxury. That same leather is found on curved banquettes perfect for larger groups. Tall wooden columns and textured wall coverings help tame this expansive space. Flickering candles give it warmth. Service, as you might expect, is outstanding with attention paid to every detail.
Begin your experience with a cocktail. The signature drink is the "Bryant Park," a mix of LIV Vodka, blueberries and lime, but I would recommend a "Black Rose." It's a blend of Ron Zacapa 23-year rum, blackberry and rosemary syrups with a splash of lemon. The drink is garnished with blackberries and a sprig of rosemary held together by a tiny clothespin. At the center is a round ice cube the size of a giant jawbreaker. The vibrant pink color, and wonderful flavor, make this cocktail a showstopper. You will also find a lengthy wine list by along with beers, ciders and sparkling cocktails.
Small plates are offered at the bar. Oysters on the half shell topped with shaved apple and horseradish are ultra-fresh. Maine lobster is luscious served with roasted corn, tomato, micro greens and grilled fennel. The Alsatian country sausage is a personal favorite. The sausage is plump and juicy, served with tangy housemade sauerkraut and pomegranate sauce. It is the kind of dish that leaves you hoping it will never end.
Cap off the meal with light-as-air beignets by pastry chef Marc Aumont (also formerly from The Modern) sprinkled with powdered sugar, or slather them with apple hibiscus marmalade. The beignets are served with a lively scoop of Duchesse de Bourgogne beer sorbet.
Gabriel Kreuther goes all out, making this fine dining spot well worth the price of admission. Dress to impress.
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