Unless you’ve been in deep hibernation, if you live in New York and have been known to consume food, you’ve probably noticed that Tom Colicchio opened a new restaurant in Manhattan last week.
The breathless chatter over Colicchio & Sons in the Meatpacking District has been inescapable since the “Top Chef” judge announced that he was turning his ailing Craftsteak space into a locavore joint with a comfort food bent. (The restaurant is an offshoot of Colicchio’s popular Tom: Tuesday Dinner, a weekly 32-seat event in which Tom himself put together a $150 to $200 meal made with of-the-season ingredients.)
Now, being a big lover of red meat — even if I wasn’t exactly a fan of the concept of Craftsteak’s $100 steaks — I’m always a little morose whenever a steakhouse shutters.
If its replacement is a worthy one, however, that’s another matter.
We decided to investigate …
First things first — Colicchio has himself a beautiful space here. It’s cavernous, it’s grand, yet it’s (relatively) spare. It’s not overdone or hipped-up like some of its surrounding restaurants in this too-trendy neighborhood.
In short, you walk in expecting to be fed a solid, serious meal.
The pizzas and beer in the bar area, now the “Tap Room,” were tempting. But Colicchio’s locavore menu in the main dining room beckoned.
Shortly after getting seated, pans of rolls hit the table. They were lovely — sticky, sweet and just slightly warm.
For starters, the raw tuna topped with julienned green apples and paired with a horseradish gelee ($16) was refreshing — the combination of tart apples with sweet tuna and the just-slightly fiery gelee worked well.
The squid with cavalo nero risotto, spicy tomato and flecks of cacao nibs ($15), by comparison, was a little disappointingly bland.
The entrees were equally mixed. The roasted sturgeon with pumpkin and saba ($30) was perfectly fine — nothing to write home about.
But the red squab with beets, hen of the wood mushrooms and roasted leeks ($34) came so bloody that one of my dining companions dubbed it “squab sashimi.”
I’m all for rare meat — and I’m always loathe to question the way a chef thinks a dish should be served — but this bleeding, not-that-far-removed-from-alive squab was a little hard to stomach, even for the adventurous.
The roasted sirloin with bacon and black garlic ($36) redeemed the evening — the meat was flavorful and had a nice char. (Of course, steak is a little hard to screw up.)
And any dish that comes with chunks of bacon is always a winner in my book.
Now, I don’t know if you’ve been noticing the prices of these dishes as I’ve gone along. But, as much as this place has been billed as a somewhat affordable place for well-done farm-to-table fare, the truth is, it really isn’t.
Sure, the steaks on the menu are only in the two figures, not three — but with entrees starting at $27 and appetizers reaching as high as $22 (for gnocchi with chestnuts, bone marrow and black truffles), Colicchio & Sons may be less expensive than its predecessor but it’s by no means inexpensive.
Would we go back? Probably not.
“Overpriced” — a word currently being bandied about in online discussions of this restaurant — is a price I’m sometimes willing to pay, yes.
But only if what I’m getting is a consistently good meal.
Colicchio & Sons, 85 Tenth Avenue (at 15th Street), Tel. No.: 212.400.6699