The new restaurant Allen & Delancey had one of those star-crossed births that give restaurant owners nightmares. It was announced for the Fall of 2006 with former Craftbar chef Akhtar Nawab at the helm. Then, an investor pulled out, and the project seemed dead…or was it?
A year later, Allen & Delancey has finally opened, with Neil Ferguson in the kitchen. Ferguson is the chef that was canned after the critics demolished Gordon Ramsay at the London. Ramsay is still alive and kicking with a new chef de cuisine, while at A&D you can enjoy, at less than half the price, the chef whom Gordon Ramsay thought was capable of earning four stars.
The space has been beautifully decked out, but it’s so dark you should bring a flashlight to read the menu. Ferguson keeps things simple, with just seven appetizers ($12–18) and seven entrées ($22–29). The similarity to the menu at Gordon Ramsay is striking: not a lot of fireworks, but simple things are done well.
Terrine of Guinea Hen (left); Cabbage, Beef and Onion (right)
My girlfriend and I both started with the Terrine of Guinea Hen, Smoked Ham Knuckle, Foie Gras, and Beetroot ($18). It takes a sure hand to make all of those ingredients work, but Ferguson managed it.
I probably wouldn’t have chosen Cabbage, Beef and Onion ($29), had not the server recommended it. This is the kind of dish that got Ferguson in trouble at Gordon Ramsay. It’s a technically impeccable presentation that doesn’t have much oomph. I was pleased with it, but perhaps some people will say that it doesn’t deserve to be a nearly $30 entrée.
The major critics have yet to weigh in on Allen & Delancey. The staff, who are all excited about the restaurant, mentioned that both Adam Platt and Frank Bruni visited earlier in the week. I can only hope that Ferguson gets a fair shake this time. Allen & Delancey deserves to succeed.
Allen & Delancey (115 Allen Street at Delancey Street, Lower East Side)