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There are instances when you walk into a restaurant and are immediately brought back to a place, time and feeling. The place: New York City, the time: late 1930s, and the feeling: nostalgia of a city and country bourgeoning, nearing the end of the Great Depression. Originally The Black Rabbit, the location would start writing its history during that period, 1937 era Greenwich Village. At that time the neighborhood had developed into a hub for the arts, making it a speakeasy hang out for writers such as Earnest Hemingway and Joe Gould. Following some 70 years of management and ownership changes, successful restauranteur Keith McNally would open the tavern as it's known today in 2009. Named after a creek which ran from - now Midtown - right through where the restaurant sits, Minetta Tavern would soon be described by some as a "Parisian steakhouse meets New York City tavern," no pun intend.
Outside, an unassuming classic brownstone building with drawn dark wood shades and a vintage "Minetta Tavern" neon sign hangs above the corner entrance. Walk by the dark wood bar and you'll find the dining room which truly evokes a sense of classic New York with its quintessential checkered floor tiles, red leather bench seating and walls lined with original caricatures and portraits of famous diners. Kudos to McNally for preserving many of the original design features which are unique to the signature prohibition era feel that Minetta Tavern is known for, including original tin ceiling panels and one of a kind glossy murals on the walls illustrating a virtual history of the neighborhood.
After a much anticipated opening to rave reviews, today Minetta Tavern has an honorable mention in the Michelin Guide and is a "Critics Pick" with three stars from the New York Times. The beef cuts are hailed by some critics amongst the city's best, coming straight from their own aging room at famed Creekstone Farms. French Chef Laurent Kalkotour finds inspiration from his childhood where he enjoyed Sunday feasts at his great grand-father's Michelin-Starred restaurant, inspiring him to attend culinary school in the South of France at the age of 15. He would go on to work alongside celebrated Chefs like Alain Ducasse and later with Daniel Boulud in New York City. Kalkotour's vast experience allows him to harmoniously blend Italian trattoria, French bistro and steakhouse on one menu. From house made pastas, escargot & foie gras, and the most notorious item on the menu; the Black Label Burger. A blend of rib-eye, short rib, brisket and skirt steak aged for six to seven weeks and served with caramelized onions and "build it yourself" toppings on the side. I realize that Cavatelli and a Burger is not a conventional pairing, but wanting everything on the menu is a struggle I often have to face.
Black Label Burger - *Selection of Prime Dry-Aged Beef Cuts, Caramelized Onions, Pommes Frites
*Rib-eye, Short Rib, Brisket and Skirt Steak aged for six to seven weeks.
Housemade Ricotta Cavatelli, Duck Ragoût, Parmigiano Reggiano, Paprika Breadcrumbs
Minetta Tavern dining room post 2009 renovations
Minetta Tavern dining room pre 2009 renovations - source
Almost 15 years later, Minetta Tavern is not only a place and buzz that you want to be a part of, but one that the city needs, to keep alive the memories of a time passed. For more information on Minetta Tavern, visit www.MinettaTavernNY.com.
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