Entries in Yves Jadot (3)


The Peacock

The Peacock strutted into town in late 2013, aiming to prove that British pub food is fit for fine dining.

The British invasion is hardly big news any more: The Spotted Pig opened in 2003, and there have been many that followed, including Jones Wood Foundry on the Upper East Side, whose owners are also behind this new venture.

But these older places are fundamentally casual, reflecting the cuisine’s humble origins. The Peacock asks diners to contemplate $26 fish and chips in sumptuous rooms, alongside three-figure Bordeaux served by suited sommeliers.

We liked it, but I’m not sure it will last.

The two adjacent townhouses on a Murray Hill side street were formerly the Williams Club, one of many establishments that catered to affluent alumni of Northeast liberal arts colleges. It was a place where locals congregated with their fellow grads, where those not based in New York could find a place to stay. As the Wall Street Journal explained:

The demise of the university clubs comes not from economic recession or a dwindling population of grads but a change in leisure interests. Younger generations of men and women, for good or ill, seem to prefer boutique hotels to the gilded clubhouse. They perhaps don’t see as much prestige in drinking and dining in swanky clubs with their alma mater’s name, when they can just as easily stay in touch with college friends on Facebook.

(There are still a few of these around: the Harvard, Yale, and Princeton clubs are in no danger of disappearing.)

The Williams site was acquired by restaurateur Yves Jadot, who converted it into a boutique extended-stay hotel (30 days minimum) called The William. There are two restaurants, The Peacock and a casual pub called The Shakespeare. Jadot’s other properties supplied the culinary talent, chef Jason Hicks of Jones Wood Foundry (who is listed as a co-owner), and Meghan Dorman of the speakeasy-style cocktail bar, Raines Law Room. Robert Aikens, formerly of Stephen Starr’s The Dandelion in Philadelphia, is executive chef.

There are two lounges with wing-back chairs and plush sofas, where you can kick back on Dorman’s painterly cocktails. They’re over-priced at $16–18, and the pours are not generous, but you are paying for atmosphere. For dinner, you move onto one of two comfortable, dimly-lit dining rooms, where tables are generously spaced and you will not struggle to hear your companion. (See Eater’s photo essay for a look at the décor.)

There are no tablecloths, but everything else about the place screams fine dining, and I don’t take issue with that. I just wonder about the viability of Gammon steak and bangers & mash in this setting. The quality of the cooking is better than most pubs, but it still feels like eating a pub menu at Per Se. Prices are not out of line, considering the elegance of the room and the skill of the cooking, with starters $11–18, mains $21–33, and sides $9.

The wine list (available online) runs to five pages, with a good range of selections below $60. A 2005 Château Ramafort was fairly priced at $55.

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Jones Wood Foundry

Could the Upper East Side be the next bastion of hip restaurants? I admit it’s far-fetched, and we’re a long way from that happening, but the essential requirements are there. East of Third Avenue, real estate is inexpensive by Manhattan standards, making it attractive both for restaurants and the young, single, urban professionals they hope to attract.

Jones Wood Foundry, a gastropub that opened in February, has the same rough-and-tumble vibe as many an East Village or Williamsburg restaurant. Whether it’ll succeed is not for me to say, but a young crowd had packed the place by 8:00 p.m. on a Monday evening, and the pro reviews have been favorable (Cuozzo for the Post, Moskin for The Times, Sietsema for the Voice).

I’m assuming the customers are mainly locals, as most Manhattanites can’t escape the impression—although it is decidedly false—that the Upper East Side is the bastion of trust fund babies and and ladies who lunch. That may be true on Fifth and Park Avenues. Take the Lexington Avenue Subway uptown, and turn right as you leave the station, and you find a much more diverse community.

This section of the Upper East Side was once called Jones Wood: it was even a candidate location for what became Central Park. The building itself, dating from the late nineteenth century, was once a foundry that manufactured manhole covers, among other things. Descendants of the original occupants, the Eberhart Brothers, still own the building.

The chef, Jason Hicks, worked in New York at Aureole, La Goulue, and Orsay, but he’s a native of the Cotswolds region of England. He’s partnered here with Yves Jadot, who also runs the Petite Abeille chain and the excellent cocktail lounge, Raines Law Room.

The menu here may remind you of April Bloomfield’s places (Spotted Pig, Breslin), but it’s more of a full-on English pub, with heavy doses of Bangers & Mash ($17), Steak & Kidney Pie ($18), Mushy Peas ($7), Haddock & Chips ($22), and so on. There are also fall-back dishes for the less adventurous, like a DeBragga dry-aged burger for $18 (which I didn’t order, but looked wonderful), roast chicken ($22), or a Niman Ranch pork chop ($28).

Most appetizers are below $15, most entrées below $25, so you can get out of here easily for $50 a head before drinks. There’s an ample list of beers on tap or by the bottle and a pretty good wine list too, though no hard liquor is served. The wine-based cocktail list is by Meghan Dorman of Raines Law Room and the Lantern’s Keep.

Celery root and blue cheese soup ($7; above left) with croutons and crispy bacon was a perfect starter for autumn. But my friend Kelly thought that Sweet pea soup ($7; above right) was overpowered by olive oil. She also found jumbo lump citrus crab salad ($14; no photo), with avocado, roasted tomato, and frisée, just average.

There were four announced specials — why should this be necessary on a menu reprinted daily? — including Partridge ($42), “just shot this weekend in Scotland.” It was served deboned, on a rich root vegetable stew. The server warned us to be on the lookout for birdshot, but all I encountered was a stray bone the butcher’s knife had missed.

Kelly has a hypothesis that food with a narrative (i.e., “just shot in Scotland”) is never worth the tariff, and this dish bore that out. I haven’t ordered partridge before, so I have no idea how it is supposed to be. It tasted slightly gamey, as you’d expect, but it was also a bit tough. A domestic, farm-raised bird on the same bed of vegetables would have been twice as good, and would have cost half as much.

We concluded with an excellent milk chocolate and sea salt pie ($7; left) with Chantilly cream.

The three-room space is smartly decorated in distressed pub chic. There is a long bar in the front room, a banquet-length communal table in the middle, and a dining room in the back. It was not terribly loud, although the crowds did not arrive until the end of our meal. Service was fine for a restaurant on this level: an incorrect order was dropped off, but promptly replaced after we pointed it out.

We didn’t really love anything, and a couple of dishes seemed off-kilter. But I adore the menu, and given the reviews it has received, I suspect we ordered wrong, or caught the place on chef’s night off. Despite the tone of the review, I’d happily rush back, next time I am in the area.

Jones Wood Foundry (401 E. 76th St. between First & York Avenues, Upper East Side)

Food: *
Service: *
Ambiance: *
Overall: *


Raines Law Room

I stopped by the Raines Law Room the other night. This is the new Flatiron speakeasy-themed cocktail lounge that can’t buy any love, because speakeasies are just so last year. Or so the cocktailians say.

My own theory is that the theme is outdated only when the customers stop visiting, and Raines doesn’t have that problem. They were already about half-full at 6:00 p.m. on Friday night, and pretty close to fully committed an hour later.

The speakeasy motif is everywhere you look. The storefront (a former antique store) is unlabeled, and there’s no phone number nor reservations taken. You ring a doorbell to gain admission. (If they’re full, the host takes your cellphone number, and you cool your heels somewhere else till he calls.) The “bar” is an upscale kitchen counter—as if this were somebody’s basement, and the “lounge” their living room.

The main room is a plush, pretty space. As I was alone, the host gave me the option of “visiting the kitchen,” without mentioning there was nowhere to sit. No matter. I chatted up the bartenders and had a couple of cocktails ($13 ea.), rye and bourbon based, with balanced, forward flavors.

Some of the modern cocktail ritual is just a gimmick (hand-crushing the ice—can anyone really tell?), but they’re doing a good job here. The place could use some food. The only option offered is a $15 plate of miscellaneous munchies (cheese, sliced meat, olives). They ought to be able to improve on that.

Oh, and in case you didn’t know, “Raines Law” refers not to a school for attorneys, but to an 1896 prohibition-like law that restricted alcohol sales in New York. So drink up and enjoy.

Raines Law Room (48 W. 17th St. between Fifth & Sixth Avenues, Flatiron District)