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Jan 27, 2011 08:12 AM

what happens when was only sorta happening for me

this is a copy of an earlier post, oops, i forgot to put the name of the restaurant and it was to late to edit it.

s a designer who often creates things on the fly, i'm a big fan of temporary installations; i love the rough edges and the lack of self consciousness that is often a part of something spontaneous. however, what happens when was lacking the very quality that begged me to visit opening week and a quite expensive dinner just didn't seem worth the trouble we took to slog through the snow to get there.

everything came off as trying too hard and though i liked certain aspects of the decor, particularly the lamps made using upward reflecting light bulbs and cook book pages, we were never able to relax and just enjoy our meal. No one explained to us where to find our silverware. One of our plates of amuses (and our neighbor's) came missing crucial bits. And in a teensy tiny space, a very annoying dessert cart was constantly being pushed through the aisles. Nothing on it was jaw droppingly beautiful, so I just didn't get why it was being paraded around like a pageant kid.

Before I describe our meal, I should note we had lunch two days before at Dovetail. Being restaurant week, for half the price of our What Happens When dinner, we had a very similar meal albeit in a much more polished and elegant surrounding.

My potato skins were fine, but frankly needed salt. (I should also note I am not a salt fiend, find most of new york restaurant food over salted, so if i'm begging for salt, it really needs it.) My boyfriend's roasted cauliflower looked fantastic but halfway through, I noticed him picking through looking for a promised ingredient that just wasn't there. My lamb came medium as I'd requested and was tasty, but a bit tough at the edges. My bf had some sort of breast of poultry, maybe guinea hen and it looked great. It was topped with a lovely roasted carrot I almost reached over to grab. But, after noticing our neighbor pushing food onto her fork with her fingers, I decided to use my company manners and kept to the food on my own plate. When it was our turn for a spin on the dessert cart, I noticed a chocolate tart with beer foam and candied pretzels with caramel, nearly the same dessert I'd just had a dovetail. I'd really really liked it at Dovetail and really really liked it here, but come on, if you are only doing three apps, three entrees, and three desserts, can't you come up with something unique for opening week?

We left what happens when full and having enjoyed our meal, but could have eaten much better at dozens of other places we often frequent (Casa mono, craft bar, The Harrison, Hearth, aldea) for much less. Based on the premise of the place I was hoping for an experience that opened my eyes, or my mind or one that took me on a journey but what I got was a perfectly adequate not very original meal. For me, that's just not good enough

What Happens When
25 Cleveland Pl, New York, NY 10012

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  1. thanks for the review, I had been thinking of trying it, sounded like an interesting place with always a different menu. But based on your review, i'll probably skip it

    1. Curious if others have been here yet and want to report. I'm heading to NYC toward the end of the month and was thinking of adding this to my list. Not sure if it'll be the same set up by then or on to the next, but am still curious to hear more experiences.

      1. Though you weren't all that impressed with the food, you might be interested in hearing about the design from chef fraser and his restaurant designer elle kunnos de voss at the Culintro Restaurant Design event on May 25. Check out the Culintro website for details.