Entries in Jenny Moon (2)



Note: Well, that was fast. Après closed just nine days after our visit, and before I got around to hitting “publish” on this review. Après wasn’t busy, and we thought it needed to get customers—pronto. That didin’t work out for them. We still think chef Mazen Mustafa is a talent who’ll be a success somewhere else, and so, for the record, we’re happy to recognize his all-too-brief tenure here. After a renovation, the space re-opened as Unidentified Flying Chickens.


Remember Apiary, the East Village restaurant with Scott Bryan, the former Veritas chef, in the kitchen? We gave it zero stars in 2009, and Eater deathwatched it in 2010, a judgment they reversed in 2012.

Turns out they had the right idea but the wrong sell-by date. Bryan left in April 2014, Apiary closed in May 2014, and after a brief renovation, it reopened as Après with chef Mazen Mustafa, Paul Liebrandt’s former top lieutenant at both Corton and The Elm.

Owner Jenny Moon was smart to recognize that a new name was far more likely to be reviewed than a new chef under the previous name. Aside from that, she changed very little. The outdoor signage uses the same typeface as before, allowing the letters ‘a’ and ‘p’ to be re-used. (I am just kidding: the sign appears to be new, although the typeface is indeed the same.) Inside, Après’ décor is extremely similar to the generic Lower Manhattan upscale casual I remember at Apiary.

Mustafa serves recognizably Liebrandtish cuisine, and if it’s not quite as good as his mentor’s best work, it is considerably less expensive than any Liebrandt restaurant in recent memory. On an à la carte menu with no clear division between appetizers and entrées, there are eleven items priced between $14–24; desserts are all $9.

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Note: This is a review under chef Scott Bryan, who left the restaurant in April 2014. Bryan will be opening a new restaurant on the Bowery called Bacchanal. After a very brief renovation, the space re-opened as Après with Mazen Mustafa, the former chef de cuisine at The Elm.


Like many restaurants these days, Apiary had a troubled birth. It opened in August 2008 under Chef Neil Manacle, a Bobby Flay disciple. Adam Platt of New York awarded just one star, while the Times relegated it to Dining Briefs (a treatment accorded restaurants deemed not worth reviewing).

In January 2009, the owners quietly replaced Manacle with Scott Bryan, the chef who earned three stars at Veritas. There was no splashy announcement. Florence Fabricant of the Times reported the news after Bryan had already been on the job for “about a week.” We decided to wait a few months to give Bryan time to install his own menu.

It has been a tough couple of years for Bryan since he left Veritas (the reasons were never explained). He was named chef at two New York properties, 10 Downing and Lever House, backing out of both projects before cooking his first meal. In between, he consulted at the Falls Church, VA restaurant, 2491. He comes into Apiary with distinctly lower ambitions. The menu, with no entrée above $27, is a far cry from the $85 prix fixe at Veritas.

There is clearly some confusion about the concept. The sleek, high-end décor seems out of place in a neighborhood where most restaurants cater to NYU students and foodies who prefer to dine on bar stools (think Momofuku). The mid-priced menu doesn’t pair well with a wine list where most reds are well above $100, and many are far above that. We had to wonder who would order a $950 Cabernet with such unassuming food.

It is not unusual for appetizers to outshine entrées, but the magnitude of the difference was staggering. It was as if the main courses came from another kitchen. I started our meal assuming that I was going to give out at least two stars. I ended it wondering how I could justify even one.

Hefty chunks of grilled octopus ($12; above left), served over white beans, had a luscious, smoky flavor. Warm Chevre cheese ($9; above right) was topped with greens and roasted beets. It was a less inventive dish, but beautifully done.

The entrées were poor. Peking Duck Breast ($26; above left) and Grilled Hanger Steak ($27; above right) were both tough and cooked well beyond the medium rare we had requested. We couldn’t detect any of the Peking spices alleged to adorn the duck, nor the green peppercorn sauce promised for the steak. Both were served atop a pedestrian vegetable purée—celery root for the duck, potatoes for the steak.

We had no complaints with a side of Brussels Sprouts ($7; left). We also liked the bread service (homemade olive bread).

We suspect that Bryan’s kitchen is capable of doing far, far better than this. However, we can rate our meal based only on what we had, not on what might have been. Perhaps other reviewers will recommend Apiary. We cannot.

Apiary (60 Third Avenue between 10th & 11th Streets, East Village)

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