Tuesday, December 2, 2008

From The Makers Of The Harrison...

...Comes Braeburn, a small-but-cozy spot on Perry Street, west of Hudson. My memories of The Harrison are dim, but I do remember a pleasant atmosphere, pleasant wines, and pleasant looking and tasting food. Pleasant. I remember seasonal American cuisine and a dining room that was warm and open. Most of these definitions apply to The Harrison's West Village sibling, Braeburn.

Take, for instance, a cornbread biscuit served with sweet butter at the meal's beginning. Perfectly pleasant, but somewhat predictable in the age of newfangled bread plates. The 'quail sausage' (their quotation marks, not mine) was actually a pressed torchon of breast, stuffed, rolled, and sheathed in quail skin, seared until crisp. It was innovative in its inception and it was pleasant enough, but something about the spaetzle disrupted the originality. Haven't I seen this dish a million times before?

Other appetizers were similarly quaint: seared sea scallops over a walnut puree, short rib pastrami over sauerkraut. The limited menu and its few entrees (six, I believe) followed suit. The usual suspects (duck, steak, pork) came with the usual suspects (Brussels sprouts, cippolini onions, savoy cabbage). The duck breast was rich and somewhat stunning, though a few pieces came overcooked. The steak, billed as a rib eye, looked and tasted more like a filet. And the pork was not nearly fatty enough to arrive medium well, which it did.

Desserts were good. More than pleasant, even. Banana pudding took the traditional route, a parfait layered with nilla wafers, slices of banana, whipped heavy cream. An apple 'hand pie' looked a lot like a McDonald's number, though it tasted better. Pumpkin cheesecake had been left too long to set and donut holes with a cider dipping sauce were good but... didn't I just have fresh donuts yesterday? I loved the petit fours, slivers of dark chocolate topped with marshmallow kisses and blow-torched, an homage to the s'more (sans graham cracker, of course), but all in all the meal served expensive comforts that reminded me of, well, other expensive comforts served elsewhere in this same large city.

It's no repudiation. Sometimes we all need a bit of comfort.

117 Perry Street
New York, NY 10014

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