The Chelsea restaurant Trestle on Tenth opened this summer with a “press juggernaut” behind it, but early reviews were mixed. I was intrigued enough to give it a try, but after a dismal performance, I won’t be back.
Lesson #1: Sometimes, you should just trust Frank Bruni. He described an oxtail and pig’s foot terrine as “gelatinous and unfocused.” I thought it tasted like a slice of supermarket head cheese. It comes with what purports to be housemade mustard, but might as well be Grey Poupon.
Lesson #2: Sometimes, you just can’t trust Frank Bruni. He loved the saddle of lamb, and I must admit it looks terrific, with a generous lobe of fat surrounding the meat. But my friend’s lamb was cold, and mine was barely lukewarm. We sent them back. They returned at the correct temperature, but the dull gravy was about what you’d expect at a diner—except that a diner would include mashed potatoes and would only charge you $8.95 for it. The greens it came with were inedible. I found my plate had too much salt, while my friend found too little of it.
Another Bruni recommendation was the side dish of gratinéed pizokel, with onions and gruyere. It also came lukewarm, and tasted like cafeteria food. We sent it back too for reheating.
Not everything misfired. My friend liked the salad of butter lettuce, bacon, and buttermilk dressing. The bread service was also good, with a vat of soft butter, though alas no butter knives to spread it with. The wine list has been much praised, and we were pleased with a cabernet franc at around $40.
After all that went wrong, a restaurant serious about service would offer to comp a dessert or an after-dinner drink. Perhaps a manager would come over to apologize? Truthfully, we were eager to get out of there, but it would have been a show of good faith. However, nothing further was said. We paid up and headed out to Room 4 Dessert, and a far more pleaseant experience.
Trestle on Tenth (242 Tenth Avenue at 24th Street, Chelsea)
Ambiance: sue the decorator