7 Ninth Ave., at Little W. 12th St.
Cuisine: Canadian-British gastropub
Vibe: Ski lodge meets hunting inn
Hours: Seven days a week, Dinner, 5:30 pm-12 am; Lunch, 11:30 am – 3 pm; Late night, 12 am – 3 am.
Price: Appetizers, $9-$15. Entrees, $18-$36.
Reservations: Same day reservations.
Highly Recommend: Poutine (cheese fries with gravy)
The Inn LW12th (short for Little West 12th) is technically trendy. First, it’s in the Meatpacking District. Second, it rides the gastropub wave. Third, it fronts the sign of the former occupant (Rio Mar), very fashionable and even more confusing than having no signage at all. And yet surprisingly, this Canadian-British gastropub feels like a charming escape from the harrowing hipster zone that envelopes it. This charming three-story townhouse is part ski lodge, part hunting inn. Trimmed with dark leather banquettes, wood paneling and smoky-mirrrored ceilings, the oxtail-lacquered walls are quaintly cluttered with a flurry of landscape paintings.
In an homage to their birthplace, owners Jeffrey Jah & Lyman Carter have enlisted chef Andy Bennett and a not-so-shabby consultant, Daniel Boulud, to deliver unfussy gastropub fare with a Canadian-bent. Truth be told, the menu’s more British (pig’s trotter) with a dash of Moroccan (harissa mayo) & Italian (garganelli pasta) tossed into the mix. In fact, the only distinctively Canadian offering is the poutine – read cheese-topped fries with gravy – which literally take french fries to a whole new level. These perfectly-browned fries arrive broiled with tangy nuggets of melting cheese curds, all blissfully bathed in a thin, but deceptive rich gravy. If our waitress were to have prematurely snatched up our plate of fries, I would’ve had no choice but to force her back with my fork. Seriously.
If only the rest of my meal had been as memorable as the poutine. While I heard rumors of a tasty lamb burger, ours arrived overcooked, muting any juicy traces. Tucked into a puffy onion roll, harissa mayonnaise dressing didn’t pack enough punch to jazz up an herbed goat cheese-stuffed lamb patty. The guinness-braised beef, too, suffered a similar fate of flavor deficiency served with what was labeled “parsnip mash”, became parsnip & mashed potatoes by way of explanation and tasted exactly like mashed potatoes. And while the garganelli, a soft and eggy penne-like pasta, was bathed in a bright rocket (a peppery relative of arugula) pesto and mingled with chanterelles, still it begged for something lively, something with texture.
But the pig’s trotter did anything but
disappoint. Tucked between two slices of white bread, crispy-skinned
pig’s feet recalled less-than-civilized tea sandwiches. The mustard-slathered meat was rendered blissfully succulent and perched on a delicate bed of
dark French lentils du puy.
Sticky toffee pudding was a perfectly luscious ending to a gastropub visit. While the presentation was atypically polished & neat, the date-infused sponge cake with toffee sauce was beyond supremely moist and well-coupled with a simple scoop of vanilla ice cream. Stay tuned for a full review in the next few weeks…
Until next thyme,