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Allen & Delancey - Reviewed
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Allen & Delancey – Reviewed

115 Allen St. (btwn. Delancey & Rivington Sts.) 

Phone: (212) 253-5400
Hours: Dinner, Mon.-Sat., 6 p.m.-12 a.m., Sun., 5 p.m.-11 a.m.
CUISINE  Contemporary European.
VIBE Cozy lower East Side haunt.
OCCASION  Romantic dinner; Bar dining.
DON’T-MISS DISH  Caramelized bone marrow, Sweetbread raviolo
PRICE Appetizers, $12-18; entrees, $20-29; desserts, $10.
RESERVATIONS  Highly recommended.

 

At Allen & Delancey, a well-heeled woman spooned bone marrow
into her mouth. It was a nonchalant bar gesture, followed by a
leisurely sip of a cocktail.

This is a culinary sign of the times.

Henry David Thoreau
once wrote, “Live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.” Dining on
bone marrow was likely not what the philosopher had in mind, but
fitting, as this is not an uncommon sight at New York City restaurants in the 21st century.

Allen
& Delancey is the perfect place to heed Thoreau’s advice. It is a
warm, nearly wintry lower East Side haunt. Reminiscent of a gentlemen’s
library, the upfront bar is lined with artisanal bitters, books and
frameless paintings. The black bar top is as glossy as the creamy
pearls of paddlefish caviar that crown the caramelized marrow. It’s a
luscious appetizer that can be indulged on a bar stool or at a dimly
lit banquette in the main dining quarters.

Owner Richard Friedberg has appointed sommelier Glenn Vogt and chef Neil Ferguson to tend to this romantic room. Having been recently released from Gordon Ramsay‘s upscale inferno, this is as far removed from the chilly formality of The London Hotel as Ferguson can get.

But
Ferguson is a British chef, versed in the refined art of French
cooking. This is also a chef with a serious offal and organ meat
fixation. Thus, the menu pivots on a sophisticated and downright hearty
axis.

Ethereal sweetbreads are tucked into a raviolo atop
braised cabbage and a vigorous Bolognese sauce. A supremely tender lamb
chop comes topped with a zesty persillade and sided by succulent
braised lamb’s neck. An excellent Moulard duck breast shares a plate
with seared foie gras; its buttery richness ably tempered by the earthy
bitterness of turnip confit and button radishes.

In matters of
seafood, Ferguson also enlists the bold, lusty flavors of meat. He
infuses bacon into gnocchi below mackerel, and wraps fluke in a smoky
blanket of prosciutto. Both have tasty results.

When he doesn’t
employ animal offerings, fish tends to register as a blank slate, too
reliant on accompaniments for flavor. A hunk of cod served as a bland
sideshow for a well-seasoned saute of artichokes, peppers and lemon
confit; a tasteless branzino was matched with a muted onion stew, and
slivers of hamachi washed away in an acrid sea of grapefruit and
pickled fennel.

Though dessert demands decadence and
indulgence, Ferguson becomes shy and all too restrained. A sparsely
dressed mélange of fall fruit wore nothing more than timid hibiscus
syrup. It surely deserved buttery crumble or moist cake. Caramelized
tangerines suffered a sterile marriage to frigid chunks of clementine.
The closest I got to richness was a pale shade of chocolate cremeux
that merely hinted at a lukewarm sweetness. This was dessert, not
afternoon tea.

Still, Allen & Delancey boasts more than its
share of meaty delights. Even if you’re not an organ eater by nature,
his wickedly light sweetbread raviolo may persuade you to explore a
more carnivorous side. Allen & Delancey is an inviting hideaway,
where guests can store up for winter on savory European classics and
hibernate from the cold.

A hunk of cod served as a bland sideshow for a well-seasoned
saute of artichokes, peppers and lemon confit; a tasteless branzino was
matched with a muted onion stew, and slivers of hamachi washed away in
an acrid sea of grapefruit and pickled fennel.

Though dessert
demands decadence and indulgence, Ferguson becomes shy and all too
restrained. A sparsely dressed mélange of fall fruit wore nothing more
than timid hibiscus syrup. It surely deserved buttery crumble or moist
cake. Caramelized tangerines suffered a sterile marriage to frigid
chunks of clementine. The closest I got to richness was a pale shade of
chocolate cremeux that merely hinted at a lukewarm sweetness. This was
dessert, not afternoon tea.

Still, Allen & Delancey boasts
more than its share of meaty delights. Even if you’re not an organ
eater by nature, his wickedly light sweetbread raviolo may persuade you
to explore a more carnivorous side. Allen & Delancey is an inviting
hideaway, where guests can store up for winter on savory European
classics and hibernate from the cold.

Until we eat again,
Restaurant Girl
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