New Food Now: The Bowery, BGC Serves Casual Upscale Grub and a Tear-Inducing Chocolate CakeJuly 11, 2014
At the risk of sounding like a pretentious prick, I’ll make a tiny confession. There are times when I cry while eating great food. Yes, it may be annoying, but it does happen; I eat something so outrageously good that I get overcome with emotion. There was a pigeon dish in The Ledbury (which warranted a tear because it was cooked perfectly, and was paired with a mousse smoother than any I’ve had before), and a kebab on the streets of Santorini (partly because I was drunk, and at the time thought that this was the best piece of charred, herbed meat I had had in my life), among a few others. Sitting down at a small, industrial-style table, in an intimate two-story space along Burgos Circle, I almost had the same revelation. Damn it. Can you imagine that something as deceptively simple as a chocolate cake was responsible for it?
The Bowery is the cool new kid on the block. By the guys behind Borough, Nolita, and LES Bagels, it is another New York-inspired concept, but definitely different from their other ventures. “This place is more casual upscale, while Borough is more upscale casual”, says resident chef Cuit Kaufman. It is exactly that- the slightly swankier interiors match the more updated menu, which sees Chef Cuit play around with more elevated dishes. While I’m a fan of short, succinct menus, there’s a reason why The Bowery’s got quite a few dishes, and even a different menu for brunch- these have been a work in progress, and everything on the menu reads like something you need to order.
A spinach corn fritter was done beautifully, crisp and not too heavy, done well by the addition of a mildly spicy tomato salsa and a cooling black pepper crema. The lobster mac and cheese was evidently a highlight, and not just because of the introduction of the luxurious protein—the cheese sauce was luscious, salty and thick, the kind you lick off your spoon long after the plate has been demolished. There’s an array of sandwiches and burgers to choose from, which you know will be made well if you’ve tried the ones at Nolita—homemade bread, and generous filling.
On entrees there’s the usual offerings of meats like steak and chicken, but even vegetarians will be satisfied by what’s on offer at The Bowery—the black bean cake napoleon surprised us, by having such complex flavor that the veggie-averse almost cleaned the plate. The bean cakes weren’t pasty, and the crisp batter introduced necessary crunch, with an underlying spice providing a welcome kick.
The Bowery’s brunch and dessert menu shouldn’t be overlooked; in fact, they might be the star here. Chef Cuit is known for his deft hand at baking—the pizza dough at Nolita, and the bagels and pastries at LES Bagels come to mind—and he has applied this to The Bowery as well. There’s a dense chocolate waffle, covered in berries that reminds one of Black Forest cake, and a cookie skillet which is better here than at your average American chain. You can get yours done here from rare to well-done; we got it medium-rare, slightly raw, melted dough in the center, with crispy edges.
A playful take on breakfast cereal comes in the form of homemade cookie crisps, still good when soggy. However, it is that chocolate cake that brought me to tears, and moved my usually chatty self to silence. It was the thought behind it, the 7 layers that had been developed until Chef Cuit was satisfied. At the bottom is a fudge brownie, then chocolate ganache, mocha meringue, dark chocolate mousse, a chocolate truffle cake, chocolate buttercream, and finally a fudge crumble. As if it wasn’t enough, it’s served with a chocolate creme anglaise, and finished with cocoa nibs. This is a study in indulgence, and each layer is pronounced in every forkful. The best—or maybe worst—thing about it is that the bitterness balances the sweet, so that it is never cloying, and can be easily demolished in one sitting. The Bowery may have just opened fairly recently, but the delicious food, and hip setting is going to ensure it’s doors will be open for a very long time.