Shovel Time: Bâtard
Bâtard doesn’t seem radical on the surface. It’s a nice restaurant in Tribeca. But thinking back to my experience in the same space over four years ago, it feels like twice as long in restaurant years. Gone are the tablecloths, much of the hush (though this was two days after the great muffling) and pretense, no biggie if you want white burgundy but aren’t willing to spend three figures. Unlike at Corton, no one would’ve given a shit if I took out my purse-sized SLR instead of leaving it at home, a more frequent occurrence lately because who cares about blogs anymore? Bâtard has an active Instagram account.
No amuses. There is still bread, though.
Anyone who ate at Bâtard in the early days–you know, a month ago–recommends the pea soup with sweetbreads. It has since given way to a more summery version, chilled and minted, and containing ribbons of raw fluke. The crisped salsify that looks like bacon is still present, as is the tableside pour.
Octopus “pastrami” might be the breakout hit. In fact, the spice-crusted cephalopod terrine, garnished incongruously but deliciously with grainy mustard, capers, ham, and potato, appeared on Good Day New York the following morning. Oddly, it was the almost sweet rye croutons that really brought this dish together.
I slunk into mild martyrdom because I don’t have fine dining friends (I have plenty of brunch friends, bbq friends, beer and burger friends, and Neverending Pasta Bowl friends, thanks) and was starting to spazz over not getting the birthday dinner I truly wanted. A well-meaning question from the loosening vegetarian almost made me say and do regrettable things. “Is there chicken on the menu?” With the exception of the schnitzel special, there’s not only no chicken on the menu, but no poultry whatsoever.
I may have opted for the veal out of misplaced defiance. It’s a serious entree, described playfully as “tramezzini,” a nod to the breading wrapped around the rare tenderloin that’s more like a wellington than an Italian sandwich. The crunchy snap peas added just enough freshness to the rich jus, chanterelles and sweetbread cube.
The black forest dessert, incorporating straightforward chocolate, cherries, and cream, was the most overtly Germanic. Sweet and pleasing, it just made sense.
Keeping with the more accessible theme, the relatively low point of entry ($55 for two courses) is nice, but you’d have to crazy to not find the extra $20 for two more dishes.
Bâtard * 239 W. Broadway, New York, NY