A LocalBozo.com Restaurant Review
239 West Broadway near White Street, Tribeca
Getting There: 1 to Franklin Street
Restaurant Review: Batard
Widely praised as 2014′s best new restaurant opening, Tribeca’s Batard seemingly took Manhattan by storm in the spring. Reasonably priced by prix-fixed standards, the two, three or four course options never exceed $75 per person. Coupled with a wine list that features roughly a dozen or so varietals affordably priced at under $40, Batard manages to offer a taste of the good life without forcing diners to break the bank. And it’s a restaurant that sits in a desirable location where the food doesn’t necessarily need to be as good as it actually is. Fortunately, it’s often downright outstanding.
Conceptually the menu reads as American-nouveau, which captures the essence of the space’s minimalist decor. Aside from some sparse light fixtures and some particularly eye catching plants, the modernized interior speaks to opulence. From its gold painted walls and its shiny dark wooden flooring, the dining room appears more spacious than it actually is, from the perspective of a seat at the place’s dimiutively sized bar. Leather banquettes outline the main space, matched by the comfortable leather chairs surrounding the fine wooden tables that make up much of the room. Though the restaurant’s noise level is certainly noticeable, it never exceeds a perfectly comfortable buzz as patrons seated around you await their array of tasty courses.
Batard’s outstanding service was consistent from the evening’s hostess to sommelier, where a sole bottle of suggested wine was neither excessively expensive, nor poured by the staff too quickly. As such, the meal was perfectly paced, conducted by the restaurant’s well trained team of servers and friendly bussers. More than anything though, the masterful culinary technique from Austrian Chef Markus Glocker translated from our first course to our last one, leaving a lasting memory of intricately prepared and inventive fare.
The explosion of colors on the dark marble plate that holds Chef Glocker’s brilliant “Octopus ‘Pastrami’” is matched only by the taste explosion that the dish delivers. A terrine like portion of purple tentacles is formed in a thin brick banded together by spices, braised hunks of ham and garnished with drizzles of grain mustard. Though the spherical shapes somehow break apart, the seafood dish is somehow as satisfying as the traditionally prepared cured meat sandwich, with all of the accoutrements working together admirably. Equally as surprising, the “Wild Mushroom Tart” offers up a cavalcade of powerful and distinctive flavors with each turn of the fork. From an array of different members of the mushroom family to the addition of a crumbling walnut crust, the components are surprisngly cohesive in heartier fashion than its name might otherwise imply. The “Red Snapper” crudo was the only dish that underwhelmed us some, with a fennel and touch of citrus from its ‘mandarinquat’ base. Certainly delicious, but just a notch below the other courses being offered.
Fortunately Batard’s “Duck Breast” managed to restore the path of the restaurant’s previously sensational journey. Plated beside a warm mushroom crepe, three unbelievably tender slices of thick pink duck breast were served with perfectly seasoned skin. Decadently fatty, a rich scoop of duck liver mousse was dissected and liberally spread atop each savory slice, enhanced by a forelle pear spread that was splashed on the plate for more than just aesthetics. Though we considered the “Granny Smith & Sweetbread Strudel” and the “Branzino,” both noted crowd-pleasers at Batard, the evening’s “Poached Lobster” ($10 supp.) special sounded too enticing to pass up. Served beside a ramekin of lobster meat infused quinoa, the delicious portion of tail and claw meat was adorned with a pickled beet which decorated the serving with spashes of purple juice. Prepared just right, the succulent lobster meat was pleasantly chewy, plated with some pickled vegetables and citrus to deliver a nice flavor contrast.
The evening’s can’t miss dish was very clearly the “Caramelized Milk Bread” a heaping dessert portion that pairs brown butter ice cream and blueberries with a decidedly sweet crispy caramel coating of toasted thick white bread. Think a creme-brulee meets a brioche French toast…with ice cream. The combination of ingredients here had us ‘ooh-ing’ and ‘aah-ing’ as our dueling spoons fought over the dish’s final bite. At Batard, we were the recipients of a nicely paced, outstanding meal with stellar service at a reasonable price. While most tasting menus are heading north of triple digits with courses that offer more misses than hits, it’s clear that Chef Glocker and his team rightfully deserve much of the praise that’s been bestowed upon them since their banner opening in May. We left Batard entirely satisfied and shockingly, had enough money left over to afford the cab ride back home.
Rundown of the Meal
2 Courses – $55, 3 Courses – $65, 4 Courses – $75
Wild Mushroom Tart*
Poached Lobster ($10 supp.)
Caramelized Milk Bread*