Entries in Devin Tavern (4)


Devin Tavern

Note: Devin Tavern closed in January 2009. This time, it’s for real. Its replacement is Trattoria Cinque.


I felt guilty. Eater.com announced that Devin Tavern, a resident of its Deathwatch hospice had expired. I wrote an obituary that was premature. Yesterday, Eater walked the story back. Devin Tavern is still open. I figured the least I could do was have dinner there.

The restaurant has re-invented itself multiple times, in an effort—so far apparently fruitless—to win a steady following. I visited Devin Tavern v1.0 about two years ago. I liked the rustic menu, but Frank Bruni wrote it off after one blog post. Most of the major critics didn’t review it. I think they’re on their third chef now. The server wasn’t sure of his name, but she said it’s the same chef as nearby Dylan Prime, which has the same owners.

I don’t know if the restaurant will survive, but its website is overdue for an overhaul. Its “press” section has links to stories about a chef who is no longer there. Its online menu shows a number of items that are no longer offered. I had my heart set on the House Made Bacons, which have been dropped.

The current menu doesn’t blaze any culinary trails, but the kitchen did a solid job with Steak Frites ($24), a slightly chewy but expertly prepared hanger steak that I was happy to finish, with an excellent Hollandaise sauce on the side and good crisp fries.

Cocktails are superb, all of which are “made with house-made syrups, liqueurs & fresh juice,” a bargain at $12 each. The bread service was excellent, too.

The space is enormous, with several spacious dining rooms. They’ve probably never been full here, but last night they had a large private party and a solid bar crowd.

Seating is comfortable, and the rustic chic décor is easy on the eyes. Service was very good, as it ought to be when there aren’t many customers to keep track of.

Devin Tavern (363 Greenwich St. between Franklin & Harrison Sts., TriBeCa)

Food: *½
Service: *½
Ambiance: *½
Overall: *½


Dead Restaurant Walking

We commented last week on a trio of restaurant closings first reported on Eater.com. It turns out that one out of three was completely wrong, and another was incomplete.

Devin Tavern has not closed. [Update: Now it has.]

And Archipelago plans to “relaunch soon with an exciting new menu designed for today’s more budget-conscious restaurant-goers.” At least Eater.com was right about Greenwich Burger: I checked it myself, and the “For Rent” signs are unmistakable.

We’ll give Eater.com a generous 1¾ out of 3 score. Archipelago is technically closed at the moment, whatever their plans may be. We’ve seen plenty of “temporary” closings that turned out to be permanent. Actually, they usually do.


Grim Reaper: Devin Tavern, Archipelago, Greenwich Burger


Update: Devin Tavern actually did not close at the time of this story, but it finally did about a month later. Archipelago claims it will re-open.


Yesterday, Eater.com reported three restaurant closures downtown: Devin Tavern, Archipelago, and Greenwich Steak & Burger. I have strong opinions about these restaurants, as all three are within walking distance of my office.


It’s easy to blame these failures on the economy, but that would mask the real story. Even in a booming economy, restaurants fail all the time. If there were no recession, perhaps one or two of these places would have hung on a while longer, and perhaps ultimately survived. Still, you can’t ignore management mistakes that led to their demise.

When I visited Devin Tavern on a weekday evening two years ago, there was no recession, but even then the large space was nowhere close to full. They fired the chef the following spring. An Eater Deathwatch came in June of last year, when the place was still not packing them in. I liked the place, but it never caught on with the neighborhood crowd—recession or not.

Archipelago was simply awful. Most of this town’s critics didn’t review it, which I assume was an act of kindness. I am not a believer in cursed restaurant spaces, but Hudson Square is not a neighborhood that attracts much foot traffic. People have to want to go there, and Archipelago didn’t give them a reason. Neither did the previous occupant, Dani.

The failure of Greenwich Steak & Burger is harder to explain, as it was comparatively inexpensive, and I thought the food was at least decent. But in a restaurant-rich neighborhood, perhaps “decent” wasn’t good enough. In the first few months after I posted my review, it got a very high number of search-engine hits (by my standards), so apparently people were interested in the place, but it never caught on.

We’re going to see more failures after the New Year. The economy naturally has something to do with it, but you need to look beneath the surface to see why. Every failure is its own story, and usually conceptual mistakes or poor execution are at least partly to blame. 



Devin Tavern

Note: Devin Tavern closed in January 2009. Click here for a more recent review.

I had a first look at Devin Tavern late last week. The website describes it as a “rustic American tavern.” I didn’t detect much rusticity in the décor, which reminded me of a country club, but it certainly applied to the cuisine.

The menu steers toward hearty comfort food, such as a fresh ricotta tortelloni appetizer ($14), which comes with braised beef cheeks and chanterelles in a red wine reduction. The combination worked, but it felt more like an entrée.  One of the side dishes was a wild mushroom flan ($8), which had the appearance of a dessert, but was too substantial to be a mere side dish. Perhaps a shift to the appetizer section would help. A citrus cheese cake ($11) came poised atop a sponge cake that didn’t yield easily enough to the fork.

That tortelloni isn’t an anomaly. The current menu includes severak other “heavy” appetizers, like Chicken & Biscuits ($12), Braised Lamb Shank & Barley Stew ($12), Shrimp & Grits ($16), and a Lobster & Corn Soufflé ($14). I wonder how many diners want to move on from such fare to entrées like Braised Short Ribs ($26), Grilled Whole Fish ($36), or a Bison Rib-Eye ($34)? To be sure, you can also get a salad at Devin Tavern, but the meaning of “rustic” is abundantly clear.

The space is large, and on a Wednesday evening it didn’t seem close to full. Service was professional and sharp.

Devin Tavern (363 Greenwich Street between Franklin and Harrison Sts, TriBeCa)

Food: *
Service: *½
Ambiance: *
Overall: *