Resto - Astonishingly Disappointing
Let's keep this one simple:
GF and I have had this on our list since the initial raves came in. As beer geeks, the place had extra appeal for us.
We arrived Friday evening (7/20) at 7:50. No wait. In fact, it's a "where would you like to sit" kind of situation.
Per Platt, Bruni, 'hounds et al., we order some bitter ballen while perusing the menu. I do not exaggerate when I say thay the liitle fried balls arrived in 90 seconds. They had clearly been par-fried and "refreshed" in the fry-o-lator just before service. They were unidimensional in flavor -- meaty with no contrast in texture to rescue the overly unctuous and fatty interior. The grainy mustard accompaniment was not dissimilar from Hellman's "dijonaise."
Deviled eggs and a burger to share was the decision. The deviled eggs were presented with similar alacrity to the ballen: this time was under two minutes. These were in desperate need of some sort of acid counterpoint to their muted, greasy texture. They were limpid and far inferior to the average backyard bbq variety (the fried pork pedestals they rested upon were indistinguishable from the ballen in their flavorlessness).
The burger -- lauded on these boards and in other critiques for its resplendent fattiness -- came to the table as grey as slate and resting unappetizingly on a Key Foods-caliber bun straight out of the supermarket bulk department. It was clearly dead on arrival. Fatally overcooked and inedibly dry, it gave way to a texture that suggested the addition of bread crumbs to the mix. There was no trace of the fatback that supposedly enriches these patties. Rather, it was easy to lay off and leave sitting on the plate next to the forlorn, far-from-frites frites.
Don't bother. The ship has sailed on this place. We won't be back and the odds on Resto lasting more than a year are slim.
Resto is in my nabe. In fact, that space at one time housed a wonderful French bistro, Pigalle, which we went to a number of times. Anyhow, based on mostly less than stellar reviews for Resto, I've avoided it like the proverbial plague. Your report just reinforces my decision to give it a pass. Most of the restaurants we passed by this evening (Fri.) were packed to the gills, so it sounds as though word has gotten around that Resto's food is sub-par.
This is surprising. I was just there Thursday night and had a wonderful experience.
My friend and I started with the bitter ballen and lamb ribs and found both to be quite tasty, not overly greasy.
My friend had a squab special while I decided to stick to the basic menu, the steak frites. I will tell you, this is the first time all year that someone's finally gotten my medium rare order down- I usually end up with medium or medium well regardless of how I describe medium rare to the waitstaff.
I'm sorry to hear that you all had bad experiences there, but from the talk I heard, people seemed pretty happy with their dishes. I'm sure I'll be there again in '08.
I think Resto is a bit hit or miss. I had been craving their liege waffle so I went recently and it wasn't quite as stunning as before, but the fries were excellent this time. (It's true - their fries are not always crunchy or really fried . . . I don't know how else to describe it.)
But nonetheless, the flavors are always good, and well, I am really deprived of and sick of other reasonably priced restaurants that are good tasting in Murray Hill. And the NYTimes rated it as the 6th best new restaurant of 2007.
So maybe we're both right?