Sunday, March 18, 2012

Day 767 : Whitehall Bar + Kitchen

Brought to you by the fantastic  team behind Mary Queen of Scots and the Highlands, Whitehall Bar + Kitchen opened in the West Village in late 2011 in the old Sweetiepie space. Coined as a Modern British joint known for its gin selection, I knew this was a place that was going to be after my heart. Slight disclaimer, in case you don't know -- if I'm not drinking wine, I'm probably drinking gin, so I knew I was going to be a fan of Whitehall Bar + Kitchen.

Entering the restaurant, the space walked an excellent line between rustic farmsteady chic and sleek modern cool. The cocktail menu boasted an array of your classic gin cocktails like Negronis, Aviations and Sloe Gin Fizz's but they also had eight house made and invented cocktails, each simply named with a number. As the manager told me their other two places have a cocktail list with all of these long drawn out names that people get confused about so instead of creating more complicated drinks here he said, why not list everything with a number? That sense of simplicity yet thought out elegance in a casual manner was carried throughout the meal and decor.

So what did I order to drink?

The number #4 -- a perfect blend of bright refreshing flavors with a nice citrusy tang and smooth finish composed of Greenall's Gin, Yellow Chartreuse, Lemon, Fresh muddled ginger, and house blended orange bitters. The cocktail was perfect with each and every dish we ordered.

What did we start with?

A selection of six of their daily oysters along with their special house cured salmon served with pickled radishes and a savory celery panna cotta. The oysters were stellar - fresh and full of briny body just the way one wants. The house cured salmon was an inventive take on the classic basic format of smoked fish, citrus, cream combination that one finds often in Northern European restaurants. Here it was elevated with the texture of the celery panna cotta which brought a whole new dynamic to the dish. A great way to start off the meal.

Then we split their Spiced Butternut Squash Salad with toasted almonds, lemon feta and watercress along with their Grilled Mackerel with a pickled red onion and potato salad, butter lettuce, and a lemon mustard dressing. We also split a side upon recommendation of their mushy pea fritters topped with mint yogurt -- an ode to the English fry-ups and English peas but with their own flair. Each dish was savory and dynamic -- doing a little flavor dance on your palate -- classic Northern European / British dishes revamped and reconstructed in a sleek manner.

The meal with brilliant and definitely worth a trip back -- whether its just for cocktails or for dinner and drinks or brunch.

Whitehall Bar + Kitchen
19 Greenwich Ave.

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