Apiary

by Susan on March 24, 2009

[Food:3.5/5]

Scott Bryan got my attention when he was at Veritas. I wasn’t alone. Since his departure, many of us have been watching; waiting for his next project. There have been rumors and false speculation. Patience has been a requirement.

When it was announced that Bryan would take over the kitchen at Apiary I was elated and again, I wasn’t alone. It has been crowded with Bryan-followers. Compared to the lukewarm reception of his Apiary predecessor, his East Village welcome has sizzled.

The restaurant, designed by Ligne Roset, is modern and somewhat forgettable. I’ll admit that the lights that cast shadows of chandelier silhouettes onto the walls were cool. Very cool.

The odd Apiary moniker is contained to a handful of bee illustrations on the menu. They appear to fly around the dish descriptions, as if telling you the food is irresistible. I get the impression that Bryan is a straight forward, no nonsense kind of guy. The cutesy bees, dancing around his food, have definitely got to sting.

Apiary aptly describes the frenetic noise level. Even when not filled to capacity, the restaurant is buzzing. The clamoring atmosphere disconnects diners from Bryan’s refined cooking; the din is too intense for the subtle food. The somewhat unpolished service was another distraction. Our server was kind, but nervous and unsure of herself. We waited an eternity for our entrees.

At Apiary, Scott Bryan is doing what Scott Bryan does best – New American with a hint of French. His focus on quality ingredients is unfaltering. His dishes are skillfully prepared.

Bits of silky avocado accompanied melt-in-your-mouth Hamachi. The dish had the perfect bite of acidity, a feat that Bryan prides himself on.

Flawlessly balanced Tuscan White Bean Soup was another example of Bryan’s ability. It was somehow delicate, complex, hearty, and elegant.

The not-so Crispy Sweetbreads were the night’s biggest disappointment. Devoid of punch, the romesco was too tame a foil. Nothing in the dish popped. Apparently Bryan is human.

The entrees were vintage Bryan. The Chatham Cod, with bouillabaisse broth, chickpeas and a piquant rouille was only out done when compared to the Skate, with a golden brown crust and duo of bacon and razor clams. Both were cooked to moist and flaky perfection.

Both duck preparations, the breast and the leg confit, were again, cooked with aptitude. The breast was reminiscent of the best-duck-ever at Gramercy Tavern. An overpowering parsnip puree could have been better appointed.

Between the noise and the service, it was hard to give Bryan’s talent and expertly prepared dishes the appreciation they deserve. Maybe I’ll forever be hoping for those long-ago dinners at Veritas, where the food, service, and atmosphere congealed into a heavenly trifecta. But maybe my version of Bryan-style dining isn’t his. Even if he doesn’t like the bees, it’s possible Bryan likes the buzz. We’ll see if the swarm continues to hover around his Apiary.

Apiary
www.apiarynyc.com/a>
60 Third Avenue
New York, NY 10003
(212) 254-0888

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