This meal was from a few months back, and it was my first visit to the dining room at Minetta Tavern. I'd eaten at the bar shortly after they opened to try the black label burger, which I enjoyed very much.
My first impression was that it was super cramped. I've shared tables with strangers before in tiny hole-in-the-walls and this still felt more cramped. And that was after only being able to make a 5:30pm reservation. Thankfully, the food was excellent and the three of us ate a lot of it.
Bread with butter and salt.
Black Maple Hill bourbon. Quite good and more viscous than I was expecting. I first tried to ordered the 20yr Pappy which they didn't have. The server mentioned to me that people ask for it all the time and she wishes they just took it off the menu once and for all.
BRANDADE DE MORUE salt cod, potatoes, shaved summer truffles
I didn't have this but my friend enjoyed it very much.
HUITRES ET CREPINETTES truffled pork sausage, salt pond oysters
Pork and oysters are a great combination, and the taste of truffle gave it a nice earthy richness.
PIED DE PORC PANE crisp Berkshire pig trotter, lentils, herb salad
We ordered an entree portion of this dish and split it between two of us as a second appetizer. The portion shown here is half of the entire plate. The skin was crisp, and the meat was rich and tender. The lentils were a good addition, but I don't think the herb salad cut into the fattiness enough. I think I prefer the crispy pig's head at Ma Peche, which is slightly more refined but a very similar dish.
GRILLED WHOLE DAURADE fennel, charred lemon, herb oil
I did not have this but it looked well prepared. I really like daurade as a fish and don't tend to see it on menus often enough. My friend liked the fried capers that came with it, which was a great way to add flavor and texture.
DRY AGED COTE DE BOEUF, roasted marrow bones and sucrine lettuce salad
The salad was rather plain, but the huge steak for two was not.
The marrow bones were rich and unctuous, and while some would prefer the steak rarer and more bloody, this was fine for us.
The steak is rightly raved about, with an excellent minerally flavor and a great crust. You don't really need anything else, and the marrow kind of puts it over the top.
POMMES ANNA, CHAMPIGNONS POELES
The mushrooms were terrific, though I liked the ones at Lincoln better, and the pommes anna were rich and crisp, if a little dry. I was getting jaw fatigue at this point, so they were not my first choice of side to indulge in.
The stuffed cabbage, on the other hand, was moist with nice simple flavors.
Essentially cheese melted into mashed potatoes, this fit right with the theme of over the top, rich, heavy foods we were eating that night.
GRAND MARNIER SOUFFLE
This was quite good. I think it was meant for two, but I found the size interesting. I've only had souffles that were either much smaller or much larger.
Not particularly special.
The food was excellent. But between the cramped space and the difficulty in getting a reservation if you're not a VIP, it certainly wouldn't qualify as a special occasion place. Also, there's not much in the way of balance in the dishes, so it might not be the place to go if you're not in the mood for a heavy meal.
I think that Minetta Tavern is exactly what a one Michelin star place should be. Not worth making a detour for if you're vacationing. But if this is the type of food you're in the mood for, it's an excellent choice. And if you're a local, it's worth being a regular (if you can).