When we last visited Bar Blanc, we found a washed-out all-blanc space helmed by a former Bouley chef, with a $75 tasting menu and a $32 suckling pig entrée. At those prices, Bar Blanc needed to be more than just a neighborhood place.
Bar Blanc wisely re-tooled. The severe all-blanc space was toned down and made more welcoming. The original chef departed, and was replaced by Sebastiaan Zijp (ironically also a former Bouley employee), who dialed down the menu to a level the West Village could support. To signal the revised ambitions, the space was renamed Bar Blanc Bistro.
Except for a strip steak, all of the entrées are now under $30. Pork appears in several dishes; the chef breaks down whole animals himself. You can order the full menu at the bar, though there is a separate menu of bar snacks, including the obligatory signature burger for $15. On Mondays, you can get a dinner of moules frites with beer for just $18. On Sundays, there’s a $35 prix fixe. Wines are half-price during happy hour.
In other words, there’s a sincere attempt to make this a neighborhood go-to place, but the cuisine is thoughtful enough, and the space welcoming enough, for a low-key date or a business dinner.
Josh Ozersky’s final act as editor of the Feedbag (other than navel-gazing) was a visit to Bar Blanc Bistro, where he sampled the whole menu, liking all of it except the beef. Ozersky has it out for the Piedmontese Beef the restaurant features: “as I expected, the hamburger is awful.”
Being the perverse soul I am, I thought I’d try the one thing Ozersky hated—that burger. No, it is not awful—you knew that, right?
Piedmontese Beef has a luscious taste, remarkable given that it doesn’t rely on high fat content. But I suppose when you’re eating a burger doused in melted Vermont cheddar and bone marrow–bordelaise mayo, who cares how fatty the beef is?
A more serious complaint is the height–width ratio. If this baby were any taller, it would be a meatball. At these proportions, it was difficult to handle. When I was finished, half the bun was still in my hand.
I wouldn’t order that burger again, but I came away much more inclined to return to the restaurant than when Bar Blanc was serving $30 entrées. There’s still much more fun to be had here.
Bar Blanc Bistro (142 W. 10th St. between Sixth & Seventh Avenues, West Village)