Wednesday, July 8, 2009
DBGB - Funky Downtown Kitchen
DBGB Kitchen and Bar - 299 Bowery, New York NY 10003
F/V Train to 2nd Avenue
I'm a fan of Daniel Boloud but haven't dined at his restaurants because they're obnoxiously expensive. However, when Lisa told me about the newly-opened DBGB downtown kitchen, I was intrigued and the two us went to check it out. A pleasant experience it was--we were especially impressed by the burger and will definitely bring our meat-eater counterparts (the hubbands) with us next time.
Located on the ground floor of an upscale apartment building on Bowery, DBGB has a modern, industrial feel. It seems slightly out of place on the Lower East Side, but the vibe is friendly and non-pretentious, and you feel compelled to stay and explore it.
I like that the space feels very open, with high ceilings. The whole look in one word is "mirrored," meaning that there's a lot of reflectory furniture such as silver shelves, tables and long mirrors with writing on them.
It was fun to sit in the open space, which contains smaller tables and open booths in the middle, and more private booths against the wall. We sat near the kitchen, which is semi-exposed and provides a way to peek in and see how things get done.
The menu was extensive and it was tough to make a decision. While I wanted to try a couple of small dishes, Lisa didn't mess around and went for their work-of-art burger.
Tomato Bisque - I started with the soup because a). I was cold and b). I adore a nice tomato broth. The presentation was impressive, as the soup came in a modern, asymmetrical bowl with mozzarella foam on top and a roasted red pepper crostini on the side. Once I tasted a spoonful, I couldn't be happier with my choice. The broth was super light and it felt fluffy, probably due to the cheese foam. I loved the hints of fresh basil and despite the big portion, I had no problems finishing it. Lisa tried it too and agreed that it was stupendous.
Polonaise Sausage - My second dish was slightly disappointing. While it looked nice, the portion was small even for an appetizer plate. I guess that I was caught off-guard because the soup was so generously portioned. I liked the gentle flavor of the veal kielbasa but I thought that it needed something to spice it up. A bed of red cabbage was the kielbasa's complement, which was nice but again needed more zing. It was neither sweet nor spicy and I prefer a carameley, sweet red cabbage, just like my mom makes. Overall, I'd say this dish was meh...underwhelming.
The "Piggie" Burger - This was the show-stopper of the night. It was presented impeccably with a jalapeno on top, speared with a "DB" tag. But even as great as it was to gawk at, it tasted even better. Topped with legendary Daisy May's pulled pork, it was smoky and comforting. The bun consisted of cornbread and cheddar, which made it even more indulgent, and the burger patty itself was cooked to perfection--as juicy and flavorful as it should be. Lisa saved the remainder of it for her hubby Jay and he loved it.
Service and Cost:
Not overly impressed with the waitstaff, I think they're still growing in this area. While there was nothing terribly wrong with our waiter, he wasn't relaxed and seemed to disappear when we needed him most. We had to ask the manager for the check, which was a bit strange and slightly uncomfortable.
The costs are moderate and for a Bouloud establishment, downright reasonable. The entire dinner, which consisted of two small dishes, one main one, a glass of wine and a glass of beer set us back about $35 per person including tax and tip. It's nice to know that you can share dishes and no entree is priced above $26.