Inside Park at St. Barts wins this season’s award for the oddest restaurant location: the former chapter house of the landmarked neo-Byzantine St. Bartholomew’s Church on Park Avenue. Folks, you must visit this restaurant. It is crazily good. Oh, and the space is gorgeous too.
Former Savoy sous chef Matthew Weingarten serves a locavore, greenmarket-driven menu. That’s hardly an original idea, but everything is beautifully done. My face lit up when fresh bread, soft herb butter and a bowl of pickled vegetables arrived at the table. When they get the butter right, you’re usually in for a good evening.
The menu offers a selection of 14 “simple plates” from $4.50–8, or you can get any three for $18: things like beets and poppy cream, smoked beef tongue, smoked black cod, torched mackerel and quince. We gave those a pass, but they look promising if you’re just there to nosh. Conventional appetizers are in the $10–16 range, entrées $26–32, side dishes $7.
Smoked Country Sausage ($12; above left) with heirloom apples and cabbage was one of the more enjoyable home-made sausage dishes we’ve had this season. Crispy Breast of Lamb ($16; above right) was a clever starter, with the lamb lightly fried with a black walnut chutney.
You don’t see Walleye Pike ($28; above left) on many menus. It was perfect here—the skin crisp, the flesh tender and moist. The vegetables were first-rate as well, with creamed cauliflower, raddicchio, caper and egg. Chicken ($26; above right) was also faultless, the kind you wish you could have every day. The accompaniments here were roasted artichoke, farro and marjoram.
We don’t normally order dessert, but we had to try the Lavender Goat Cheese Soufflé ($14; above left), which was as good as it sounds. The meal ended with small petits-fours.
Service was faultless. For a six-week-old restaurant, Inside Park seems to be running about as smoothly as could be.
Unfortunately, it looks like this restaurant could be in for a tough time. On a Friday evening, it appeared to be no more than 10% full. The neighborhood isn’t known for nightlife, so it will need strong word-of-mouth to attract diners to a destination they wouldn’t normally seek. We can only hope they’ll succeed. This is one of the best mid-priced restaurants we’ve visited in quite some time.
Inside Park at St. Bart’s (109 E. 50th Street at Park Avenue, East Midtown)