Just an after work drink turned into a quest for dinner. Being situated in Bryant Park, options of somewhat reasonable prices for great food seemed relatively limited in the sweltering, New York summer heat. In listing off places that came to mind, I casually mentioned The Breslin at the Ace Hotel. My friend immediately jumped on this suggestion, but complained about the 10 block walk down 5th Avenue to our destination. After a failed cab ride, a three-block bus ride, and more complaining then a three-year-old child, we arrived at our destination. I have been into the hotel lobby, which is a wealthy hipster’s paradise, but the restaurant resonated a slightly elevated level of class without any of the pretentious elements.
We put our names down with the hostess and were told it would be a half hour. A little under 20 minutes later, she led us upstairs, past a full, suckling pig on a giant table, to a secluded part of the restaurant. She seated us at the best table in the house, isolated with a view of the entire happening bar below, next to the wine coolers, which blended into the restaurants rustic décor.
The restaurant is relatively dark, with an old fashioned oil candle on the table as the main source of light. Everything is wooden, decorated by simplistic elements, such as old fashioned paintings and little figurines of pigs, bucks, and sheep. It feels like you’ve entered a country barn, but are still in the middle of New York City.
I glanced over the drink menu and was instantly drawn to the cider, an alcoholic apple juice. We ordered a small carafe of the delicious, candy drink and sipped on its refreshing bubbly sweetness. Ultimately, we decided to start the meal with the Caesar salad, anchovies on the side for me, after having seen portions of it downstairs.
This was how a Caesar salad should be made.
There was something so simple about this dish, but so complex and mind blowing. Each of the perfectly crisp romaine hearts, dressed in a Caesar dressing that almost had a hint of green to it, was delicious. The crispy parsley gave that perfect element of unexpected crunch, for those bites without the oversized homemade croutons. It tasted delicate, without being overly filling. The anchovies on the side were perfectly light and salty, making it the most perfect addition to an already wonderful salad. This was the way to start a meal.
We both ordered the lamb burgers, one of the most famous dishes at The Breslin. I ordered mine medium-rare, nice and bloody. It came out and my mouth began to salivate in anticipation.
This is a burger done right. As I began to carefully cut the burger in half, you could hear the crunch of the delicious perfectly baked bun. Then you cut through to the juicy burger, with some of its flavor seeping onto the bun and wooden board. I lifted it up to my mouth, with no addition of any condiment necessary and took one delicious, messy bite. My soul began to sing, I was transported to a land of burger greatness. All other burgers will be forced to hail in comparison. The keys to pure success comes from the bun, the burger and of course, the cheese and veggies. This was so simple. Perfect bread. And then the burger; cooked to a wonderful medium rare, with the most gorgeous, juicy pink color in the middle. The chef seasoned it to perfection with the essential char grill marks giving the impactful flavor of smoke and juiciness. The thin slice of seasoned feta elevated this burger into another dimension. The slightly sweet, but tart cheese counterbalanced the flavorful burger. The thin slice was just enough, making sure to keep the burger as the star. Then the little bite of the onion and it all came together in between two perfect pieces of bread. Delicious.
Then of course, like any good burger (ha, good burger), you need the side of fries. These are thrice cooked, making sure to retain a crunchy exterior and light interior. The combination of the wonderful, not too greasy fries with the cumin mayo created a spice and flavor sensation for the books. Pure culinary perfection.
This restaurant was wonderful. It is definitely not cheap, but for the quality of meat and experience, it is definitely worth it. I will continue to dream about this burger until my bank account gains some ground and I can afford this work of culinary perfection again. For just a drink in the hotel bar, or a dinner with friends or that special person, The Breslin is sure to impress.
The Breslin – 16 W. 29th Street – New York, NY
Location: Flatiron, NY
Type: New American
Perfect For: Adventurous Eating, Late Night, Celebrity Sightings
Reservations: Not Accepted (unless staying at The Ace Hotel)
Favorite Dishes: Lamb Burger, Caesar Salad, Crumpets