Restaurant of the Week: The Brindle Room

Jonathan Durbin
Full disclosure: I basically live on top of this place, and although its collection of comfort food is masterfully prepared, I'm bound to be prejudiced toward to any restaurant I can get to (almost) without leaving my building. That's not to say there isn't good reason for those who live farther away to come. Jeremy Spector (ex-Employees Only, Dogmatic Dogs and the Gramercy Tavern) heads up the kitchen here, and his fare is heavy and delicious. The menu focuses squarely on the small plates, but "small" isn't the best way to describe them. The grilled leeks with romesco ($8), for instance, resemble nothing so much as the remains of a clear-cut forest -- giant stalks of greens, grilled until tender and perfectly salted, accompanied by a pool of bright orange sauce that's far more delectable than that sounds. Then there are the baked oysters ($15), fresh and briny, suffused in a wonderful mystery of cheese, breadcrumbs and creamed leeks. Small plates? No. You're meant to spread those calories around among friends, especially if you plan on tackling the seared cod with chorizo and saffron ($23) -- rich, flaky and savory in a porky sort of way -- not to mention any of their weekly specials. (If they're serving the duck breast entreé, go for it; it's worth the extra three hours at the gym.) Spector is in tune with the seasons, and even though the restaurant just opened last month he's already changing things up for spring. The drinks list features a selection of good wines by the glass (all $10 or under) and a thoughtful selection of beer, including Tecate, which, when you're eating food like this, should definitely be drunk out of a can. For more sophisticated folks, they also offer an interesting mix of cocktails, like the Sake Smash (ginger root, lemon, $9) and the Port Cup (cucumber, mint and tonic, $9), any of which ought to help gird you for their dessert selection. I'd like to try to make their banana bread sundae with drizzled chocolate ($6) at home, but why bother when it's bound to be so much better -- and right downstairs?
The Brindle Room
277 E. 10th St.
East Village
(212) 529-9702

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