The John Dory
We have been mourning the loss of The John Dory since it closed. We were so excited to hear that Ken Friedman and April Bloomfield were going to reopen The John Dory in the Ace Hotel sometime this fall. The restaurant finally opened this past Friday at noon. We had dinner there Saturday night. Although the full menu isn't available for the next couple of weeks, right now only appetizers, bar food and cold plates are being served.
Keep in mind that the place had only opened for less than 48 hours so service was not streamlined quite yet. If you were ever questioning the doubt that Ken and April wouldn't have a hit on their hand with delicious food, you were poorly misinformed. Everything we ate last night was really good and somethings were over the top.
The place itself is very kitschy. Sitting on the corner of Broadway and 29th Street with windows wrapping around the restaurant. The fishbowl effect. I love how all the seats are bar stool height. Makes for a very casual and communal vibe. Ok…let the food begin.
Ken has hired a mixologist who has a pretty interesting list of drinks. As a rule, I drink my alcohol straight but last night I went wild and one of the drinks. A Bottle Rocket. Tequila, seltzer, honey and mint. Really delicious and after you are done drinking one, you are feeling quite nice.
First thing out was two Parker House rolls with an Arctic char pate. At the first John Dory the Parker House rolls were killer. They are here too. Soft, airy and buttery. Open those up and drop a spoonful of the char pate on and you are pretty much good to go.
Next out, razor clam ceviche. Large razor clams chopped with a light touch of lemon, a hint of spice and a green sauce. Excellent. Flavor exploding in your mouth.
Hamachi with ginger is one of the crudo selections. This too is from the last restaurant. Nice sized pieces of hamachi with just the right amount of ginger to balance the fish.
They had oysters from four different locations last night. Two east, two west. We went with three different types. All good, all different and all briny…just how I like my oysters. Coming to think of it we never got two things we ordered. Alas. That is what happens when places open quickly. I am sure those kinks will be worked out over time.
Next out was the escarole and anchovy dressing. This is a bit different than it was in the first restaurant. Large pieces of escarole doused in a creamy anchovy dressing and bits of toasted bread crumbs on top. This was good but not my fave.
The next two items out were killer. This particular dish is classic Bloomfield. A small bowl of an oyster pan roast. 3 plumpy oysters floating in a buttery oyster stew. On the side is a thin sliced crostini slathered with uni. Dip the crostini in the pan roast and put an oyster on the end and bite. Words can't describe it, really. This is foodie heaven.
The other dish is mussels stuffed with mortadella and served in a spicy tomato broth. The stuffing makes the mussels large and worth the bite. Sometimes you can eat a bowl of mussels and still feel hungry. Not with these mussels. Really delicious and over the top.
Last but certainly not least was the shrimp cocktail served with a zesty mayo. A nice end.
Dessert wasn't on the menu yet as I am dying for the lemon treacle pudding and I have been assured it is on the menu. I will be back the minute the rest of the menu is up and running.
Afterward we walked home. Opening Ceremony, which is located in the Ace on Broadway, is open until 10 and so we strolled around the store for a while. Made me feel like we were on vacation since stores in NYC rarely stay open that late. On our way down Broadway we stopped in the Hill Country Chicken store to check out the menu and pies but those were not the sweets we were craving. Instead we made our way in to Eataly to have some gelato. The pistachio almost tastes like you are shelling pistachios and just popping them in your mouth.
It is incredible how the Ace Hotel has transformed a neighborhood. Many years ago, Amsterdams was a restaurant that opened far up on the UWS into a not so nice stretch of the UWS. Over time, that block became nicer and eventually the entire area transformed. As we were reading off all the names of the import/export businesses that surround the area of 29th and Broadway, there is absolutely no doubt that five years from now they will all be gone. Soon that funky no mans land between Madison Square Park and Herald Square will become a hot bed for stores and more restaurants. Like the Highline that has resurrected the areas around it, so has the Ace Hotel. I wish that the city would be willing to spend serious amounts of cash to update the transit system so that areas that it would reach would also become healthy economies. It might cause debt in the short run but the jobs that will be created and the economies that will be created will eventually pay off that debt. But that is another post.
Get over to The John Dory because there is no doubt that sooner than later it will be impossible to get in the door. Happy to see the doors open and to have it back. Yum, what a night.
don’t know if I could handle those shrimp looking back at me, but the stew looked great.
people are funny about the whole fish thing. i get it on the shrimp. thestew, i am still dreaming about it.