Earlier this year, AvroKO Hospitality Group and chef Brad Farmerie decided to close their three-year-old Asian-themed restaurant, Double Crown. Farmerie told The Times, “I want to take a fresh approach, innovate on familiar dishes with touches of North Africa and the Mediterranean.”
If there is anything fresh or innovative about its replacement, Saxon + Parole, it is lost on me. The menu offers the likes of seafood towers, a beet and feta cheese salad, a foie gras terrine, steaks, chops, lobster, chicken, a whole branzino, and so forth. It’s a generic upscale suburban restaurant, transplanted to the Bowery, with the kind of easily replicated fare that can be churned out on auto-pilot while Farmerie tends to his Michelin-starred flagship, Public.
The design department at AvroKO, which was once hailed for innovative designs at Public and Park Avenue, has fallen pray to repetition. This exact idea (named for two nineteenth-century race horses) hasn’t been used before, but there is nothing clever in its realization. The firm has become a world-class accumulator of tchotchkes.
In a one-star review earlier this week, Eric Asimov of The Times praised the burger ($17), so I ordered that. It gets a wonderful kick from a gooey fried egg, Havarti cheese, and maple bacon. The beef has a strong fatty flavor, but probably wouldn’t hold up on its own without all of the extra toppings. The fries ($6 if ordered separately) come with two dipping sauces, chili ketchup and blue cheese mayo. To my taste they were too greasy, but perhaps some people like them that way.
I dined at the bar, where getting a server’s attention was a chore. Whatever you may want—to get a menu, to order, to get a check—you’ll be waving your arms wildly before you’re noticed.
They do a brisk bar business here. I had two tequila-based drinks, the Bowery Fx and the Beetnik (both $14). The tables appeared to be about half full at 7:00 p.m., but that’s early by East Village standards. With tables spaced fairly close together and plenty of hard, exposed surfaces, it’ll get loud later on. I didn’t stick around to find out.
In a neighborhood chock full of restaurants with personality, I’m hard press to see the point of Saxon + Parole, which seems to revel in its very ordinariness. I suppose another AvroKO creation will replace it in a few years.
Saxon + Parole (316 Bowery at Bleecker Street, East Village)