355 West 14th Street at Ninth Ave.
Savory NY video
DRINK: Strawberry Nirvana
NIBBLE ON: The french fry flight
START WITH: Oysters Rockefeller
ORDER: Filet mignon tournedo
FINISH WITH: Mango tapioca pudding
Tucked into a nondescript, barely marked storefront in typical speakeasy fashion, Gin Lane draws little attention to itself, at least not from the outside. But step foot inside, and you’ll feel as if you’ve accidentally wandered onto the set of The Great Gatsby, 1930’s style. This former Village Idiot space has been transformed into a grandiose supper club, decked out in burgundy leather banquettes, retractable skylight, mammoth oak bar and wrought-iron chandeliers. Nothing like its ultra-trendy neighbors (Spice Market & Sascha), Gin Lane is a throwback to the past, a time of excessive drinking and eating.
Wearing tucked-in ties, plaid pants and converse sneakers, the subversive schoolboy-clad waitstaff were eager and willing to deliver mixologist Dale DeGroff’s latest cocktail list. In the spirit of the restaurant’s namesake, I tempted the gin-laced French 75 classic, a refreshing concoction with the perfect balance of champagne, Hendrick’s gin, lemon juice and a touch of simple syrup. And while the grapefruit julep was equally as pleasing, both the Strawberry Nirvana & Bees Knees Classic were too syrupy sweet to be taken seriously, never mind paired with such savory classics as onion soup and filet mignon, leaving me to suspect that the bartenders were taking liberties with DeGroff’s recipes.
In keeping with the old school theme, the chef from the Plaza Hotel’s now defunct Oak Room, now presides over Gin Lane’s classic continental kitchen. I began with an unusually moist & meaty crabcake, playfully perked up with a grain mustard remoulade and a touch of paprika oil. Then, plump oysters frolicked in a puddle of bechamel sauce, spiked with parmesan and sauteed spinach. The organic heirloom tomato salad was a disappointing and tasteless display of less than mediocre tomatoes with little trace of balsamic vinaigrette. Thankfully, the golden brown French fry flight made up for the tomato incident. Hand-cut belgian fries arrived wrapped in paper, seasoned three ways: blue cheese with garlic & chopped parsley (my favorite), chipotle with salt & pepper, and caramelized shallots with parsley.
While I should’ve wanted to linger over dessert and recline further into the banquette, two things were conspicuously missing from Gin Lane; cozy seating and cozy desserts. Though the mango tapioca pudding was a lovely and delicate gesture, I wanted to eat something I would regret. I wanted to sink into a banquette filled with pillows, perhaps plaid ones, while I engaged in some heavy foreplay with a hot fudge sundae or gooey chocolate cake. Alas, creme brulee just seemed too civilized after a sordid night of bar-hopping in the Meatpacking district.
Until we eat again,