Note: Bloomingdale Road has closed, after four months in business and mostly mediocre reviews.
Update: The Times reports that the restaurant remains open with a limited menu, but Chef Ed Witt has left, and the owner is trying to renegotiate the lease.
Coda: After failing to negotiate a more favorable lease, Bloomingdale Road closed on Saturday, February 7, 2009.
Bloomingdale Road opened about a month ago on the Upper West Side in the former Aix Brasserie space. Chef Ed Witt was last seen at Varietal, where he was roundly panned by most critics, and was fired shortly after a devastating review from Frank Bruni in the Times.
At Bloomingdale Road, Witt abandons some of the more absurd flights of fancy that doomed Varietal. This is still a thinking-man’s menu, but with a comfort food soul that goes right for the gut. Among our two appetizers and two entrées there wasn’t a single disappointment, or anything remotely close to it. I am not ready to call this destination cuisine, but if you’re in the neighborhood this has got to be one of the better options.
So far, the neighborhood agrees. The large, tri-level space is doing a brisk business. The vibe is casual (but check out the funky chandeliers), and the menu is sensibly priced for a recession economy. There are snacks ($5–9), Soups & Salads ($7–17), Small Plates & Sandwiches ($10–16), Pastas ($17–19), Mains ($18–24) and Sides ($5–8). There’s an ample selection of 23 wines by the glass, and the there are plenty of decent bottles under $50, including the Rhone blend we had for $42.
The menu says that items are designed to be shared, though it’s not clear which selections that applies to. My pork chop, for instance, didn’t seem to be any more obviously shareable than any other pork chop I’ve seen. Gael Greene’s review mentioned that several of the supposedly shareable items come in threes, which is not a wise strategy, as most tables have even numbers of customers. Shareable dishes should come in twos or fours; never threes.
For a large, fairly new casual restaurant, service was attentive and impressive. A manager was making the rounds, and it appeared he stopped at just about every table to ask how things were going.
Meals start with a delicious Parker House roll, with soft creamy butter. The roll is cooked in a tin can, which the server delivers to your table and turns upside down. I must admit the roll’s phallic shape didn’t occur to me at the time, but it was rather apparent when I looked at the photo the next morning.
We started with two items from the “Small Plates” section of the menu. The terrific House Made Sausage ($10; above left) is made with smoked pork and jalapeño, topped with cheddar, white beans & chips. We also loved the Duck Confit Parfait ($14; above right), served in a glass jar with brandied cherries poured in at tableside. This is a larger portion than it appears in the photo. It came with three slices of round toast for spreading; we asked for three more, and they came quickly. For the size of the portion, they should just send out six pieces of toast with every order.
There was nothing fancy in either of our entrées, but both were done just right, and this is no small accomplishment in a kitchen turning out as much food as this one. I could find no fault in the Chicken ($22; above left) or the Pork Chop ($24; above right), with cheese grits and caramelized apples.
One never knows what the future will hold, but if Ed Witt can keep the kitchen operating at this level, Bloomingdale Road should be an Upper West Side hit.
Bloomingdale Road (2398 Broadway at 88th Street, Upper West Side)