The latest gem in Daniel Boulud's crown that opened this past May, DBGB Kitchen & Bar is the casual eatery with mains in the $17-25 (all prices listed in US) range, lots of French offal for sharing, and fancy-pants burgers prominently featured. I considered blowing my New York food budget on a single meal at the flagship Daniel, one of only six restaurants with four stars from The New York Times critic Frank Bruni, and sustaining myself on bagels for the rest of the time but I couldn't ask Steph to do the same.
Our friend Kayla, who was also visiting New York that weekend with her sister and aunt, met us at DBGB. The place was packed. Every table in dining and bar room filled. Sleek, cool, dark, metallic with an exposed wrap-around kitchen; copper pots, jar preserves sitting on shelves; black booths and tables; loud but somehow could still hear my friends across the table; a French-accented waiter.
When we sat, before we even glanced at the menu, I promptly told them they were both going to try the bone marrow ($11) I would order. They looked at me skeptically but I insisted. If it was good enough for Top Chef Masters winner Rick Bayless (@Rick_Bayless), it was good enough for me. (I saw him Twitpic the dish the weekend before when he helped his daughter move into the NYU residence from their homebase, Chicago.)
I never had bone marrow before. I don't think I liked it. It had a gelatinous texture I wasn't very crazy about. I suppose you're essentially eating fat, which I'm normally all for, but I couldn't convince my taste buds to think "yummy" for this first time around.
Taking somewhat of a foodie 180, I opted for the Frenchie burger ($17) as main. Pork belly came with it. Do I need to say anything else? My burger was cooked to medium-rare as specified. I don't know what possessed me to ask for such a thing, but it turned out to be a good choice. Slightly bloody, tender meat ( Meatless Mondays have helped me love my carnivorous days that much more). I liked peppery arugula as the green choice; brioche bun was nice and toasty; accompanying fries were crisp, and not those super thin frites crap I've come to dislike. Unfortunately, I don't think I really tasted the pork belly. Yet overall, I think I actually liked the Harbord Room burger more... Or maybe I should stop trying to find the perfect gourmet burger, and just stick to the Johnny's I know and love!
L: Us in the reflection of the DBGB window sign; R: The instructional wallpaper of the washrooms, excuse me, I meant restrooms
Steph got the lemon&rosemary roasted chicken with ratatouille and baked garlic head ($17), while Kayla ate a huge plate of curry mussels ($18), which was completely authentically Thai rather than French. Both were very good. Nothing mind-blowing but comfort food done right.
I'm not sure if I would recommend this place. The bone marrow came quickly but our entrees took a very long time, and I think it's simply because our waiter forget. Another server had to point out to him that we were still waiting. A solid meal, sure, but I'm sure there were lots of other solid meals I could've got out of SoHo, New York.
Rating (out of five stars): *