Wednesday, February 2, 2011

DBGB, New York

Let me disclose up front that in college I used to ride bikes with Chef Chiggen Legs; as a result, Cuz and I got some special treatment here. Like "we'll just triple the number of plates you ordered" kinda special. Your mileage will vary.

My last post contained a good deal of disgruntlage about the gentrification of the Bowery; in truth I would of course not want to hang out on the old Bowery either. I would be soundly beaten. This is the natural order of things. Still, it gives me a little satisfaction to think that there are remnants of the old grubbiness. Some of it is mere frontage where the innards have been replaced by luxury shopping; some of it is keepin it real, like the Chinese chair-table-booth outlet pictured here (and the other area restaurant-supply stores in general. It's like the Kappabashi of New York. But smaller and dirtier.).

Almost like a restaurant supply store, the dark, capacious interior of DBGB is packed with copper cookware. This is because celebrity chef-owner Daniel Boulud prevailed on his various celebrity chef friends to contribute pieces of same to the fitout. It's neat to go around the shelves and see who you recognize, but let's eat.

We ordered 4 plates, and 3 of these are not them. Top left is a small starter, a shot of terrific matzoh ball soup (this used to be called "Mom's" but is now called "Jim's", possibly indicating some kind of familial rift in Scarsdale) and another of very rich lobster bisque topped with gazpacho (just stop me if I'm remembering any of this wrong, OK?). Some parts of the mixed meat plate were very good; in particular I would get a whole order of the hand-cut steak tartar any time. It really was hand-cut, and you really can tell the difference right away, and it really is worth the effort. The head cheese was neat, the salami OK, the country-style terrine odd but maybe good. Going around, the marrow bone represented the first time Cuz or I had had such an item, so we weren't sure if the melted-fatty-buttery flavor and texture were great or normal (but there was certainly too much pepper). On the foie plate, the small sweetened dome of liver was better than the warm and slippery sliced round, but the cooked fruit and walnuts were maybe better than either. Sorry.

Next two plates are also ones we ordered; some really horrible photography here. Mussels on the left were of course begging for fries, but were undistinguished in ingredient quality or cooking. Snails on the right turned out to be not in garlic-parsley-butter, but Thai-style red curry. They were also, intriguingly, served a bit cold.

So we learned that meat is really the specialty of the house here; that shouldn't have been a surprise with the in-house sausage maker and all (that's glib; he's French, he makes cured meats for all the restaurants in Boulud's group, and he works at one of the other New York restaurants. There are 13 on three continents, and yes, I think that's too many for one man's name. Robuchon and I have agreed to disagree on the point.). We ordered the one on the left, two versions of regular pork sausage - one Beaujolaise with Puy lentils, the other Toscane, with fennel, tomato, chili and garlic. In the middle is half a burger, and I have to say it was very good (despite its medium-rare-ness) - I'd get a burger if I went back here. Right, the blood sausage, a very very rich blood sausage, and also the Emmenthaler-infused Viennoise with house-made sauerkraut.

We were but two people. We craved mercy and a check after all this meatful bounty.

But were cruelly denied, and instead served a slice of baked Alaska. You know, I think the pastry chef has her thing together, because I liked the precision of the filling and the meringue piping. Nice stuff.

The other thing I forgot to include pictures of was the 7 tasting-size beers we drank. It's worth going here for the beer alone, with a good 15+ varieties that were mostly new on me. Not all American either - the 'beer sommelier' (surely she has a better title, but that's the function she graciously performed for us, and a good job of it too) gave us a great story about one Belgian beer that had never been kegged until their supplier took a tanker to Belgium, filled it with beer, shipped it back to America, and put in kegs for distribution to various restaurants, DBGB obviously among them, and our little waiting glasses.

There you are; from the above extravaganza I would say 'order carefully', 'get tartar', 'get a burger' and 'stick with the simple sausages'. Oh, and 'drink lots of beer'.

That may get me struck from the guest list, but the staff was less friendly than I would have liked until they saw the special 'friend of chef' symbol next to me name...
(212) 933-5300

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