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Update: Inside Park at St. Barts

Three years ago, I thought that Inside Park at St. Barts was the best new restaurant no one had heard of. I wrote:

Folks, you must visit this restaurant. It is crazily good. Oh, and the space is gorgeous too.

Having said that, I never thought that my recommendation alone would make much of a difference. It didn’t. The Times never reviewed it, and Adam Platt in New York gave it just one star because the room had few customers. Silly me, I thought that the role of criticism is to draw attention to neglected gems, rather than to assume they’ll sink like the Titanic.

Anyhow, the reviews were what they were, and chef Matthew Weingarten did what he had to. The menu is now slightly less expensive. Bread service, amuses bouches and petits fours are all eliminated. The food remains good: Weingarten didn’t forget how to cook. But it is no longer as interesting.

I can report that artichoke fritters ($9), a pork chop ($29), and a crab cake ($26) were all enjoyable, if not worth traveling for. But the restaurant now has what it lacked: guests. Plenty of them. On a recent warm summer evening, all of the service was in the outdoor courtyard, which was packed. Loud music blared on the speakers.

I suspect that the lovely indoor space is better, when they start using it again in cooler weather. Meantime, I’m glad Weingarten found a way to stay in business. Perhaps, if the customers keep coming, he’ll be able gradually to bring back the food he clearly wanted to serve. There is nothing wrong with what Inside Park at St. Barts has become, but it’s not what it was.

Inside Park at St. Bart’s (109 E. 50th Street at Park Avenue, East Midtown)

Food: *
Service: *
Ambiance: *
Overall: *

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