Monday, February 15, 2010

The Breslin Bar & Restaurant

The Breslin, inside the Ace Hotel, is a veritable pork festival.

Corner of Broadway & 29th Street
212-685-9600; reservations not accepted
100-seat restaurant serves breakfast (from 7:00a), lunch and dinner (until midnight); closed 4:00-5:30 pm daily
Bar (seats 40 or so) open until 4 a.m. daily

This is the place to go if you weigh about a hundred pounds and just can’t seem to gain weight. Cure guaranteed. From the same folks who brought us the famed and trend-setting Spotted Pig, the Breslin, named after the hotel that occupied this location for many years, is an extravagant gastro-pub that opened last December. The menu is a paean to pork (vegetarians will run screaming), but the hottest item seems to be the lamb burger with feta cheese and red onions, served on a cutting board with a side of thrice-fried french fries (chips, as listed on the very Brit menu) and cumin mayo.

Housed in a 12-story corner building (c. 1904), the restaurant echoes a British pub, with tavern green walls, dark tufted leather banquettes and unfinished wood floors. Coveted booths sport plaid curtains and red cubbies to charge phones and computers. Those who need a touch more privacy can close the curtains and press a button to request a server (a light goes on outside your booth to signal the wait staff). How cool is that?

From the bar, try a “pickle back” – a shot of whiskey with a pickle juice chaser. I swear I’m not making this up. If the weather is truly frightful, try the egg nog with rum on the bottom, calories be damned. A popular main dish? Pig’s foot for two. Bar snacks? Semi-shelled boiled peanuts fried in pork fat. I swear to God.

Tip: Come VERY early if you don’t want to wait hours and hours for a table. This place is beyond hip and so full of buzz you’ll need insect repellent.

Direct from Portland, and also off the lobby of the Ace Hotel, is the east coast’s only Stumptown Coffee. Check out the hats on the servers and admire the street-facing floor to ceiling windows trimmed in black lattice. Is this place handsome, or what? Doesn’t hurt that they roast their own beans in Brooklyn. As if you needed added enticement to come to the corner of Broadway and 29th Street, the popular lobby of the Ace Hotel, stuffed with leather Chesterfields and tartan plaid wing chairs, is a destination in and of itself. At last midtown is waking up from its decades-old doldrums.