Voyage closed on the corner of Perry and Greenwich Street about 8 months ago. The big question was obvious. What is going to go into the space. The location is great and the space is perfect for another restaurant. Friday night, Braeburn opened its doors.
We walked over and sat at the bar last night and had dinner. That would be day 2 of opening. The location is perfect, one block down from the Spotted Pig. My guess is there will be quite a few customers at the beginning that walk over when they find out that the wait is over 2 hours at the Pig. That is a positive for Braeburn as they hope to convert new customers into regulars that might not have realized that there was a restaurant down the street.
There are 2 rooms. The first having a bar right in the middle with about 12 seats makes for a nice comfortable room. The other room which is must larger with seating only. Keeping in mind that Braeburn only just opened the doors, I do have only a few comments to make on the decor. I like the minimal modern country feel. Sort of feel as if I have walked into a local restaurant in upstate Connecticut. I do wish they could make the lighting warmer and more inviting. A bit too bright which really does make me feel as if I am in the suburbs. Also, the windows are still dirty and wish the lights very bright, I kind of felt as if I was in a newly opened construction site. Minor stuff but certainly fixable. The bar isn't fully stocked yet either. I asked for a scotch and they couldn't find the bottles downstairs and there are only 5 scotches on the menu. The bartender had me taste a whiskey from New York which happened to be excellent so I went with the flow and had that.
We begin with a chive roll and butter. Would have been nice if it was warm but they are probably just working out the kinks. The menu is spare but everything sounds quite good. For our first course we each had something different. I had the bibb lettuce with toasted pumpkin seeds that had been chopped up and a light olive oil lemon dressing. Very nice, simple and light. Fred had the quail sausage. Quail sausage was in quotation marks on the menu so I assume that is a house specialty. It was really good. A large browned sausage that had been stuffed with quail served over quinoa and a dollop of Greek yogurt. Really rich almost like a foie gras. A hit.
Main course was next. Fred had the rib eye. Sliced pieces of rib eye served over a mixture of porcini mushrooms and kale and a few roasted cippollini onions on the side. Simple, well cooked and a good serving….not too small and not too big. I went with the chicken. A chicken breast with the wing attached. Perfectly cooked crispy skin over a mixture of chanterelles and pearl onions with a parsley sauce around the plate. Unfortunately when I cut into the chicken to take my second bite, I realized the entire chicken was raw inside. No worries, they took it back and brought me another plate which was perfect. It happens at the beginning.
There were a variety of desserts that sounded delicious but we passed. The owners from Braeburn (chef being one of them) come from The Harrison and earlier from Bouley. I hope the dream of opening up their own restaurant is a success. I have only a few suggestions. Fix the lighting immediately. Too bright which makes the restaurant lack in the intimacy that has been created with the decor. Clean the windows. Rethink the pricing. The first courses go from $10-14 and the mains from $22-32. Successful restaurateurs will tell you that in times of economic downturn, the key is staying open and riding the wave. Making sure that each night is filled to capacity. Not so much about making the big profits but making sure that there is success in creating a clientele. People in NYC go out nightly for dinner because it is a social town and people just tend to not cook as much at home. Call me crazy but spending $50 a night per head seems high for coming back many times a month.