Saturday, February 23, 2013
Boulton & Watt Brings the Best of Old and New
Once in a while, life surprises you, as I found myself at Boulton & Watt just 2 days after hearing about it from an out of town friend. Dan and I had been invited there for a tasting, just by chance, and found the whole thing quite ironic. I was excited to try it of course and after hearing that it's a gastropub, I was ready to enjoy some sophisticated, comforting pub grub.
Located on a busy corner on Avenue A and 1st street on the Lower East Side, Boulton & Watt is nicely positioned to enjoy a lot of neighborhood foot traffic. Even in winter when everyone's gaze is on the ground and heads are buried in jackets, you can't help but notice this place and peek inside. I have a feeling it'll get a lot busier in the spring and summer, with the windows open and the hip atmosphere spilling onto the sidewalk. Which brings me to mention their interior. Simply put...it's lovely and inviting without trying too hard.
Influenced by the Industrial Revolution, Boulton & Watt is done up with a lot of careful details that do a great job of bringing you back in time. It was nice to see the neat iron fixtures incorporated into the wall and ceiling design--a lot of them serving as lights and fans--as well as the aesthetically beautiful and at the same time functional, vintage iron stools. I like that everything looked clean and somehow a little weathered too, giving this place a lot of credibility and intrigue. Surprised that they actually had flat screen TVs hidden behind a wall fixture, it's obvious that they don't want to be positioned as a sports bar, but don't want to deter sports fanatics either during big sporting events.
As I already hinted, the food here is homey yet sophisticated, giving validation to the whole concept of a gastropub. It reminded me a lot of the food that I enjoy at Sweet Afton, and could see the chefs being good friends.
Appetizers - Choosing a few apps so we can sample a little bit of everything, we went for the Scotch Egg, the crispy wild mushroom duxelle, and a jar of pickled pineapple. Out of those, my favorite was the pineapple because it offered the most surprising and unique bite. Served in a sweet little mason jar, it was fun to pick out the tart pieces, which were on the fiery side, as they were flavored with generous amounts of habanero.
The Scotch Egg was a close second, with a really thick crunchy crust and a perfectly runny yolk interior. While I've had Scotch Eggs before in other restaurants, none were done as expertly, and Boulton's also sat in a beautifully velvety Bernaise sauce, further bringing us to the edge of indulgence.
Entrees - For our entrees, we went pretty simple - me with a classic chicken pot pie and Dan with a signature burger. While I had a bite of Dan's and really enjoyed it - the meat being cooked perfectly and the bacon crunchy and still a bit chewy - I really dug my entree. The golden brown top was a pretty sight and when pierced with a fork, it revealed a creamy middle filled with white and dark meat, and vibrant root veggies. I like that they used good quality, free range organic chicken, which absolutely stood out as the star ingredient. Note that this dish is pretty large and can be shared with another person if you so wish.
Dessert - Taking dessert to go, we couldn't turn down the cast iron chocolate chip cookie. I can't say it any other way than that it's to die for - the inside being soft and chocolatey while the outside remaining crispy and perfect for dunking in ice cold milk. Since the portion is quite hefty, we saved some for the next day and heated it up again to bring out its gooeyness. It was still godly!
Service and Cost:
Overall, I felt that the service was casual, complementing Boulton's atmosphere, while at the same time achieving efficiency. I was amazed at how quickly our glasses of water were refilled and our plates cleared. We had to wait quite a bit for our cookie, as it's made to order, but I think something still broke down in the process. Despite this little hiccup, our waitress kept us well informed and there was really no harm done.
Costs are moderate and comparable to other Lower East Side joints:
Sides - $8
Dessert - $9
Boulton & Watt - 5 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009
F Train to 2nd Avenue