Note: Whym closed in late 2013.
Whym is “A Restaurant,” as both the outdoor sign and the credit card receipt remind you. I’m glad they cleared it up. Just in case you wandered in, and thought it was a shoe store.
Actually, there’s no chance of confusion. Whym is exactly what it appears to be: a comfortable, informal, stylish New American dining spot. It’s in a good location, within walking distance of Lincoln Center, and on the edge of gentrifying Hell’s Kitchen.
Open since 2006, Whym sits blissfully outside the culinary conversation, devoid of any media attention. It’s one of those acceptable, functional restaurants that the city is full of, neither objectionable nor especially praiseworthy.
For a family dinner before a show, Whym fulfilled its purpose. Most of the food was good, or good enough, and a family of five got out for $264 before tip (that was with two of us not drinking alcohol).
The cuisine at Whym is in the upscale comfort food idiom, with prices that all end in “.95”. I thought they only did that in the suburbs. Appetizers, soups and salads are $6.95–12.95, entrées $14.95–27.95, side dishes $6.95–8.95, desserts $7.95–9.95. There’s a good selection of vegan and gluten-free dishes.
Artichokes ($11.95; above left) were panko-crusted and pan-fried, tasting a bit like a vegetarian fried calamari. The arugula leaves that come with it were dry, and needed some dressing. I heard murmurs of approval from the crew that tasted the Butternut Squash Ravioli ($11.95; above center), but I didn’t try it. Pulled Duck Sliders ($12.95; above right) had a satisfying tang, but shouldn’t have contained bones.
Wild Mushroom Cavatelli ($20.95; above left) could have used some salt and were a shade too mild, the table said. But Thai Linguini ($22.95; above center) got the seal of approval from those who tried it. Maple Blackened Salmon ($23.95; above right) was just fine.
There was a Duck Breast special with sweet potato ($24.95; above left), which my son loved. I didn’t expect a Pork Chop ($25.95; above center) to be pounded flat. For almost the most expensive item on the menu, this undistinguished specimen was a disappointment. I was much more fond of the garlic-scallion mashed potatoes underneath it.
A side dish of so-called Sexy Mushrooms ($7.95; above right) was just a side of mushrooms (three kinds) with almonds in a mascarpone cheese sauce: a good dish, but the sexy angle entirely eluded us.
A trio of sorbets ($8.95; above left) included plum, coconut, and mango-banana flavors. The S’mores-wich ($9.95; above right) was by unanimous agreement the best thing on the menu, a terrific dessert with chocolate ganache, graham cracker crust, and melted marshmallows.
The space is arguably over-decorated, but the booths are comfortable, and the space is not loud. It was about two-thirds full on a Saturday evening. The service, like the prices, felt suburban, but was certainly good enough.
Whym (889 Ninth Avenue, north of 58th Street, Hell’s Kitchen)
Food: New American comfort food, unadventurous but mostly successful
Service: Like an upscale suburban place
Ambiance: Comfortable, modern, and not loud
Rating: Neighborhood spot
Why: A deservedly below-the-radar spot, good enough for a family outing