This place opened in 2016, with two related restaurants on the same premises. In the basement is the more ambitious 40 seat Metier, and on the ground floor the casual Kinship, which seats 55 customers at any one time. These are both run by Eric Ziebold, who was previously head chef at Cityzen. The menu is laid out in an unusual structure, with separate themes: “craft”, “history” and “ingredients”, each with starters, mains and desserts, but you can mix and match dishes from these as you wish. The room is gloomily lit, as seems to be the way in so many US restaurants, hence the limited food photos.
The wine list was quite extensive, with references such as Woodlands Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 at $65 for a label that you can find in the high street for $41, Raspail-Ay Gigondas 2015 at $95 compared to its retail price of $37, and Ridge Montebello Chardonnay 2013 at $155 for a wine that will set you back $78 in a shop. For those with the means, there were grander bottles such as Clos Rougeard Saumur-Champigny 2012 at $295 compared to its retail price of $247, and Leoville Las Cases 2010 at $615 for a wine whose current market value is $325.
There was an amuse bouche of scallop soup with “Old Bay”, a commercial seasoning involving paprika, red pepper flakes and celery salt. This was pleasant, the scallop flavour coming through fairly well (13/20). Between us we tried three starters. Chickpea falafel was served with labneh (strained yoghurt), cucumber vierge sauce and rouille mousse. This was decent enough, the slight dryness of the falafel offset by the mousse and the sauce, the garlic flavour coming through strongly (13/20). Pissaladiere is a sort of pizza popular in the south of France, usually topped with caramelised onions, anchovies and black olives. The version here had a topping of mackerel, along with marinated spring onions, olives and rested on a base of parsley coulis. I didn’t think this worked very well, the coulis making the bread base soft. Parsley is a strong ingredient at the best of times, and its slightly metallic taste rather dominated the flavour profile of the dish (11/20). Tempura of takenoko (bamboo shoot) came with sugar snap peas, enoki mushrooms and aged miso broth. I have eaten a lot of tempura in Japan, and the ideal batter after frying is ethereally light and and barely coats the ingredient that it contains. This was a long way from that ideal, the batter soggy and cloying, though the sugar snaps were nice enough. I have no idea why anyone would put tempura in a broth - it was countless intentional, but its logic is beyond me (11/20).
Roast chicken here was a four-pound bird suitable for sharing, and is a speciality of the restaurant. The meat was cooked nicely, kept moist by the use of a lemon garlic panade under the skin of the bird. The meat came with some defiantly mushy rissole potatoes, which should be pan-fried until brown and crisp, but here were merely brown. There was also a frisée salad and a side dish of peas and asparagus. On the side were pleasant Porterhouse bread rolls. This was a nice enough dish overall, but well below the standard of, say, Nomad in New York, let along the glorious Landes chicken at Ferme au Grives (13/20). “Crisp” veal sweetbreads were anything but, coming with turnips a la Grecque (pickled in vegetable stock and wine), pea bavarois and grilled romaine lettuce. I am a fan of sweetbreads but these were oddly flavourless, and although the peas were a pleasant accompaniment, the main element of the dish was disappointing (11/20).
Service was friendly, though there were a couple of slips on wine topping up, and the staff didn’t seem well briefed about the produce: the waitress had no idea about the origin of the signature chicken, and despite promising to ask the kitchen and tell us, this piece of information remains a mystery.
We tried two desserts. A triple creamed cheese called Nettle Meadow Kunik from Sheila Flanagan in the southern Arondacks, made with Jersey cream came with rhubarb jam and poached cherries with multi seed crackers. The cheese was quite good but the rhubarb barely registered, which is odd given how sharp rhubarb usually is (12/20). Passion curd tart came with coconut Chantilly, coriander meringue and carrot sorbet. The tart itself was nice, the pastry a little heavy but the passion fruit flavour coming through quite well. I was unconvinced by the idea of the coriander meringue in particular, which seemed out of place, though carrot can work quite well in a dessert, as seen in then Indian dessert carrot halwa (12/20).
Then bill came to $154 (£119) per person. If you shared a modest bottle of wine between two then a typical cost per person might come to $110 (£85). This is not in itself a vast sum of money, but at this level of pricing I would hope for consistently better food than appeared on the table tonight. To give it a Michelin star is, with apologies to “Top Gun”, writing a cheque that the kitchen can’t cash.