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Sep 7, 2008 08:41 PM

Ed Witt opens Bloomingdale Road on the UWS where AIX used to be

A few months ago, I ran into a group of guys hanging out on stools outside of the old AIX space. I asked them whether AIX was (God forbid) going to reopen and they said no, they were thinking about reopening the space as either a Mediterranean or Mexican restaurant.

Well, the restaurant has reopened, but not as a Med or Mex restaurant. It's a greenmarkety, American comfort food type of establishment to judge by the charmingly wrinkled menu posted in the glass box out front, and offers a wide variety of small plates. Ed Witt's is listed as the chef. (I belatedly realized that one of those guys out front may've been him. Kinda cool. :) The soft opening was yesterday. As of noon, there were newspapers on the windows. When I passed by again at 6, the place was bustling. From a quick peek through the windows, the space looks sleek and modern, but not over the top like AIX was.

There's no relationship between this restaurant and its predecessor, but oddly, they still use the same reservation system. My name shows up from a reservation made years ago!

I'm set to eat there on Wed. when the restaurant opens to the general public. Here's hoping the food is a lot better than at AIX.

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  1. This is just a short placeholder until next weekend when I hopefully have a moment to write up a full review:

    Food is okay, not great -- about the same quality as Bodrum or UWS Mermaid Inn, its close neighbors. The same folks who financed this place also have an ownership interest in Nonna, Firehouse and Campo, all on the UWS, according to one of the partners who was walking the floor, tonight.

    We had mostly small plates:

    suckling pig meatballs (good sauce, good quality meat, but the sauce was clearly added after cooking the meatballs and the flavors didn't infuse)
    smoked fries (what was smoked about them? the mayonnaise sauce was interesting, but not for everyone; otherwise just mundane, slightly undercooked fries served with overly sweet bbq sauce)
    pulled chicken sliders (good)
    lobster and crab coconut soup (prob good for what it was; i'm not a fan of coconut milk soups, generally, though, so it's hard for me to assess)
    smoked devilled eggs (best item we had... lovely crisp garlic garnish over a classic prep)
    tuna ribs (interesting idea, not very meaty and quite insubstantial for the $16 price tag, hard to eat, and poorly flavored)
    lamb with mint (only entree we had) and haricots verts (good quality lamb, well marinated, mint syrup too sweet and jarring; haricots verts delicious, tho some might find them overcooked, as they were soft, not crisp)

    wonderful, cute bread baked in a soufflee dish to start. my tempranillo by the glass was good (a 2004). my dining companion's 2005 bordeaux blend was light and uninteresting.

    service was very good (present, not hovery). decor was fairly attractive (interesting upstairs dining room with a view of the street.)

    total came to be about $105, not including tip.

    i'll try it, again, but i can't say i foresee it being a favorite.

    p.s. correction re: no overlap with AIX. one of the partners in BR was apparently one in AIX, as well.

    3 Replies
    1. re: cimui

      so i was really excited to read your first posting above b/c i totally missed any news about AIX. but, your review above does not leave me with high hopes and, once i read that it is affiliated with nonna, et. al, my heart dropped. nonna tries but it is just mediocre and, afterall, i think we have similar tastes (with exception to earthen oven but we'll agree to disagree : ) ) anyway, i will try this place. it is not even listed on menupages yet but here's a blurb:

      1. re: cimui

        Went last night - the bottom line - underwhelmed but a decent spot if environment is more meaningful than food... it is nice inside

        Old Bay fries - good, but not great

        Mac n Cheese - better than average and I liked the condiments jalapenos, bacon and croutons.

        Fig, ham and goat cheese salad - nice but trying too hard and missing the boat.

        Tuna ribs - missed the boat, fell off the pier and sank into the river

        two glasses of a nice riesling with appropriate acidity to cut through the mac n cheese

        $90 all in

        1. re: msny98

          "Nice inside" if you're not afraid of clowns...

      2. The original comment has been removed
        1. Went last night. Had the suckling pig meatballs, tasty, but wasn't blown away by the red sauce; the squash dip, forgettable; the jalapeno sausage was okay; the bbq chicken sliders and the grilled cheese, though were great. We didn't try any of the entrees, but the lamb and the pork looked good. The service was a bit frazzled, but our waiter was very nice. Will be back (but it's also 2 blocks from my apt).

          1. You guys are being far too nice. I just went last night with my wife and another couple who are friends of ours. I can say without hyperbole it was the single worst dining experience in my 9 years living in the Manhattan area. Among the four of us that went last night, we ordered both types of fries (old bay and cheddar/bbq), mac and cheese, green chili cheeseburger sliders, tuna "ribs", meatballs, and the strip steak. When the first dish showed up (the fries) I knew we were in trouble. Joking aside, there are more fries in a happy meal than came on these 7 dollar portions. The meatballs were dry and crumbly. The sliders were barely cooked and were served on stale bread. But nothing could have prepared me for the tuna "ribs". It was nothing but a plate of fish bones with barely a shred of meat on any of them. My wife joked that it looked like dog scraps that have already been picked over. Only the mac and cheese was "decent" and was the only dish that didn't totally upset us. We complained to the waitress as our last dish (the strip steak) took at least 30 minutes to arrive after everything else. While she did give us a 10% discount on the food portion of the check, it would have been too much money for this food if it were given to us free. Even our clueless waitress acknowledged to us that the service had been bad all night. The good thing that came out of the meal is that I learned my lesson, never go to a restaurant when it first opens. There is no way this restaurant can possibly stay open more than a year, its just that bad. Start the countdown...

            5 Replies
            1. re: bryanm529

              bryanm529: Can you give us some examples of where you do eat, and what you like so we can gauge it against our own experiences?

              1. re: David W

                David - my wife and I like to eat out a lot (try for at least one nice meal out each weekend). Among our favorites recently are Perry St, Fiamma, Anthos, Cafe Gray (before it closed), Lupa, Del Posto. Per Se still ranks as our favorite of all time. For the upper west our go to spots are Landmarc as well as Kefi, Mermaid Inn, Spiga, Bar Boulud, Ocean Grill, etc.

              2. re: bryanm529

                this is a very helpful review, bryanm529... disappointing but helpful. thanks!!
                oh, and they are now on menupages - unfortunately (for them). see this:

                1. re: bryanm529

                  I give this place 12 to 15 months MAX. The food is shticky, the execution poor, the service worse. It's too bad that they couldn't turn the place back into the rib joint it used to be about 3 incarnations ago. (Excuse me for forgetting the name.)

                  1. re: steelydad

                    You are generous. It lasted about five months.

                    I wonder what has become of Ed Witt... I know he has created excellent food in the past!

                2. Afraid that my experience was similar to bryanm529's. We had the iceberg salad, the pulled chicken sliders, the duck confit, the tuna ribs, and the mac and cheese. Like bryan, the only really decent dish was the mac and cheese; the iceberg was okay though the croutons were soggy. The pulled chicken sliders, the confit, and the tuna ribs all bordered on inedible; the tuna in particular was terrible. Part of the problem was the completely disorganized service -- the busboys were confused about which tables had ordered dishes (and were extraordinarily efficient in getting rid of them) -- so the food was largely cold by the time it arrived. But it is hard to imagine that most of it would have been better warm, since, for instance (and as bryan suggested), the sliders were served on stale bread and the chicken was just not well prepared or seasoned. Maybe they'll get their act together, since the neighborhood clearly turned out for the event -- the place was absolutely packed. The decor, by the way, is bizarre. The clowns are indeed hideous. But overall it doesn't work: chandeliers/chinoiserie/mirrors with modern glass-topped tables, etc. and bright lights, with Elton John playing in the background. Some of the flourishes could potentially be cute (the confit in a jelly jar, the check in a paperback novel, etc.), but given the lousy food I was inclined to find them simply annoying.