White Slab Palace has been open since late February on the Lower East Side. The cuisine is vaguely Scandinavian, but the vibe is more like a “bar that serves food” than a true restaurant. The narrow space has a long, high counter with tall bar stools. The there are about a dozen low-slung wooden tables next to the tall windows facing out on Allen & Delancey Streets.
A forthcoming expansion into the neighboring space promises a more formal dining room, but we decided not to wait for that. Alas, we should have waited, or better yet, skipped White Slab Palace altogether. This was one of the most disastrous meals we’ve had in a long time.
Food took about 45 minutes to arrive. “Sometimes, we need to give the kitchen a nasty stare,” the server admitted. At last, our main courses were delivered, bypassing the appetizers entirely. We had both ordered the meatballs—just four smallish things the size of golf balls, dried out and over-cooked. No wonder they took 45 minutes.
A moment later, a plate of deep-fried stuff arrived. We thought it might be an appetizer. Then we had a taste. It was a fish-like substance, apparently a herring, just as parched as the meatballs. There were other deep-fried fishy things on the plate, none of which we could stand after more than one bite. Our server circled back: “You didn’t order that, did you?” Nope.
We weren’t sure what was happening next, but finally the appetizers came. An order of shrimp tasted like it had been swimming too long with the herring. We tasted one shrimp apiece and gave up. A hunk of lamb was so densely packed with gristle that my knife could not get through it. This was apparently a cheap cut that needed braising it hadn’t gotten.
That was the end of White Slab Palace for us. The server conceded that it was a rough night, but didn’t offer to comp anything to make up for it. Food, beer and cocktails set us back $117, including tax and tip. Oh, and they don’t take credit cards.
White Slab Palace (77 Delancey Street at Allen Street, Lower East Side)
Ambiance: it’s a bar