When Irving Mill first opened a few years back we went for dinner with a few friends. The owners came from Gramercy Tavern and by the looks of the restaurant, they were certainly paying homage to GT. The feel was very similar but it just wasn't the same. The food was okay, not great, yet the owners seemed to know what they were doing.
A new chef has appeared on the scene of Irving Mill and I figured we should give it another try. Here is my take on Irving Mill. I am not really sure what audience they are appealing to. The front room has a bar with a few high cocktail tables and an area over the bar ( a platform ) with a bunch of other tables. The back room has large banquettes around the room and tables in the middle. I kind of felt as if we were in a nice high end fern bar in the suburbs where I could either eat dinner or watch the Sunday afternoon football game. The music playing was happening about 10 years ago. Reminds me of people who are wearing the same boots from college when they are 40. They haven't changed with the times. That is fine, it obviously works for them, but not sure it works for a restaurant in NYC just east of Union Square. But then again Houstons up the street has survived and this is sort of on the same level but Houstons is a chain.
But, let's talk food. The menu has been poached from other successful locations around the city. They are doing the pork thing and burger which is right out of the Spotted Pig menu. This is mixed with a few pasta entrees which don't really make sense with the rest of the menu. They have also tossed in a few raw appetizers that come out of the Esca menu with a small variation but not much. There is also the roasted chicken for two which comes off the Commerce menu. The menu is put together like a Keith McNally restaurant. And the place looks like GT. Nothing creative in this place.
So enjoyed the other couple we had dinner with so that was a huge bonus. My food was okay. I started with the raw hamachi with tiny pieces of grapefruit and thinly sliced chorizo that had been sauteed and scattered over the fish. This whole dish was doused with olive oil. It was okay but it wasn't bad. I also had the fish for dinner. 2 pieces of crispy skin fish over grains and a bit of a green sauce. It was good but nothing new or original.
The service was not good. The waitress, although pleasant, in a place that was pretty much dead, should have been much more attentive in getting drinks asap. The management should have trained her. It was obvious she was trying to figure out how to take care of the table but wasn't exactly sure.
Continuing on my recession theme….my guess is that Irving Mill won't make it to the other side.