V.V. Brown performs the title track to her album, Travelling Like the Light, at the Bowery Ballroom
DBGB Kitchen & Bar (299 Bowery)
If you are going to party like a rock star, it seems only fitting to eat like one, too. When I was invited to attend the concert of British pop star, V.V. Brown, at the Bowery Ballroom, I immediately knew where we had to nosh before the show. Though I have frequent withdrawal cravings for the baskets of warm mini-madeleines at Daniel Boulud's uptown bistros, I have been waiting for the perfect occasion to explore the newest of his ten NYC restaurants, and his first venture below midtown. The fact that his flagship restaurant, Daniel, was recently named on the S. Pellegrino list as one of the top 50 restaurants in the world (at #8, it's the highest ranking NYC restaurant, even above Zagat's valedictorian, Per Se) also added to the urgency for me to indulge in his downtown kitchen and bar, DBGB.
Named in playful homage to the late famous rock hall up the street, if CBGB stood for Country, Blue Grass, and Blues, then DBGB could quite easily be an acronym for Daniel's Bistro, Gastropub, & Burgers. If the dining room decor of shelves of kitchen-worn copperware donated from famous chefs of the world seems a sort of culinary museum and tribute to the restaurant supply warehouses of the neighborhood, then perhaps the menu could be considered a museum of the history of Boulud's evolution as one of New York's most acclaimed chefs. With a significant nod to his classic French roots, the menu also boasts more American favorites the lower east side has come to love. The best part? Though you can enjoy a full meal at DBGB for nearly the price of an appetizer at Daniel, the dishes are still extraordinarily unique and simply delicious.
The service was impeccable and even above and beyond what I've come to expect from the Daniel Boulud brand. Our head server, Frank, was sensitive to our requests, and helped both compose and pace a dinner that celebrated both exquisite French fare alongside the unique gourmet pub offerings for which DBGB has received much buzz. Suffice it to say that I have been blessed to have enjoyed more than my fair share of some of the best meals available in the culinary showcase known as New York City. At DBGB, however, we actually giggled in such epicurean ecstasy that other guests literally approached our table to inquire about our selections, so that they could know better what to order during their next visit.
The petit plateau de fruits de mer was anything but petite. Though I cannot claim to be an aficionado of the raw bar, my favorites were the jonah crab claws, tuna crudo, and the periwinkles (tiny marine snails that tasted somewhat like little sea sausages). The conch was a little too firm for my enjoyment, and though the pesto aioli dressed the oysters nicely, the strong essence of ocean water is a taste I have admittedly yet to acquire.
To pair with the upcoming courses, our server recommended this double abbey ale. Unfiltered, it's literally a living beer... continually fermenting in the cask until it's poured. It was deliciously hoppy, yet smooth and caramelly.
The beaujolaise is one of the most popular of the sausages made in house. Resting on a bed of French green lentils, this link is stuffed with pork, mushrooms, onion, and bacon that has been sweetly marinated in red wine.
My personal favorite was the Vermont, a pork sausage paired with hash browns and red onion creme fraiche. When you cut into this wham-banger, a river of creamy Vermont cheddar comes melting out (my stomach just boisterously growled while recalling how savory and wonderful I found this brilliant bite).
The white and green asparagus paired with a cracklin' breaded fried egg and smoked duck redefined the notion of breakfast at dinner.
The soft-centered yolk blending with the mustard dressing created an explosion of simple flavors that I would recommend for any newcomer to DBGB. Perfection.
Though we were tempted to try one of the unique burgers (the Piggie, for example, is topped with pulled pork and jalapeno mayonnaise), we simply couldn't resist the server's recommendation of the roasted leg of lamb over eggplant caponata, served with panisse fritters (chickpea fries).
For dessert, we sampled a specialty rice beer, an intoxicating barley wine, and a strawberry-infused blonde beer of which I would have taken home a keg had it been offered to go.
The Omelette Norvegienne was an incomparable baked Alaska of pistachio and vanilla ice creams, raspberry sorbet, and fresh meringue in a chartreuse flambée.
Mymi's Rhubarb Tart with rhubarb ice cream tasted like a blend between a perfect rendition of the classic pie and creme brulée.
The dessert special was like the picasso of tiramisu... a shortbread chipwich filled with mocha & mascarpone ice creams, and espresso-soaked ladyfingers, served with a pitcher of mocha creme anglaise for pouring.
After what certainly climbed near the top of favorite dining experiences, we left absolutely pleased and already thoroughly entertained as we walked the few blocks to the Bowery Ballroom. V.V. Brown was equally delicious and effervescent, and the ideal icing on the cake to an exquisite evening. Even if you don't hold tickets to one of the famous downtown music halls, it's great to know you can at least dine like a rock star on a non-celebrity budget. DBGB Kitchen & Bar has undeniably secured its place in my hall of fame.