I used to walk by Minetta Tavern daily when walking with the kids to school. Total old school tavern. Always open and always some form of drinking going on. The ownership changed hands after god knows how many years and now Keith McNally has added Minetta Tavern to his downtown empire.
When I first read about the transition taking place, I didn't jump in quick enough to get a reservation. Jessica did and loved the place. Last night, I got the opportunity to finally go. First of all, I have watched McNally's empire grow as other NYers. Each restaurant is a tad different but all genius and all packed. There isn't a McNally restaurant that I don't like. The food is always good and some dishes are fantastic. As my best friend is gallivanting around Paris this week, I felt like I got my fix last night at Minetta.
The place is packed to the brim. Small and old school. Although the menu reminds me of an old time Parisian bistro the vibe is something out of either 1940's Paris or 1940's Berlin. The walls are packed with old black and whites from the original owner, Mr. Minetta himself. A long bar on the left when you enter the long corridor with seats on the right. The back room opens up with a fresco on the upper wall. The kitchen has a window that just lets you know where the chefs are.
The food is really good. We started with the bone marrow. 2 long split bones, makes it easier to scoop up the marrow, served alongside a small bowl of chopped sauteed onions and crisp thinly sliced long baguette pieces. Your cholesterol level shoots up through the roof but it is a very decadent delicious dish. We also split a special of the evening which was thinly sliced white fish and tuna over asparagus and shaved mushrooms. It paled in comparison to the marrow.
For dinner, although I was tempted to order the burger ( gives me another reason to return ), I went with the NY Strip. It is a huge piece of meat, a tad salty but perfectly cooked and so flavorful. Fred went with the special of veal sausage that was really good and like an old school French dish.
We just split a small order of sorbets for dinner. Not a lot of food which is a direction I need to start going in. There is no doubt that I will returning and hopefully when it is a little less crowded this summer. My only issue is the noise level is through the roof. Even our server had a hard time hearing us. We all noted that it would have been nicer to see each other in a quiet setting. We will get together this summer when the only noise might be the crashing of the waves in the background.
Minetta, another winner ( no surprises ) for Keith McNally.