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New York City chefs are caught in a comfort-food holding pattern—what’s a restaurant these days without a porkcentric menu, a fried-chicken special and classic cocktails? In this era of culinary regression, unassuming Brindle Room offers something audacious: well-executed international fare that’s mature and refined without being stuffy. The key here seems to be restraint. The restaurant’s modest decor is composed of just a mirror framed in birch logs and a few glowing lamps. Chef Jeremy Spector (Employees Only) has compiled an equally disciplined menu, featuring a list of “spreads” (don’t miss the creamy brandade), small plates and a tidy collection of entrees. Among the small plates, we loved a smart revision of that English classic, potted shrimp. Instead of suspending them in solidified butter (the traditional preparation), the sweet crustaceans were given a Mediterranean twist, served over a buttery tomato fonduta that we mopped up with hunks of olive-oil--soaked toast. A seared cod entre offered a neat rectangle of flaky fish over verdant vegetables—fava beans, crisp asparagus, green onion—and another bright, buttery sauce fortified with white wine. Spector’s sole nod to comfort food’s death grip also happens to be one of Brindle’s most memorable detours: an inspired take on poutine. In addition to duck gravy and oozing cheese curds, Spector tops his crisp fries with shreds of duck confit and crackly skin. It’s a beer drinker’s dish, and Brindle room offers a few worthy local and West European selections (Keegan’s malty Mother’s Milk did the trick for us). Wine and beer cocktails were less appealing, though a friendly server promptly offered to replace our too-spicy michelada when he saw us wincing through the second sip. Desserts—like a dense banana bread pudding—also seemed out of step with this otherwise sophisticated meal. The Brindle Room may not be a perfect dining experience, but with chefs dumbing down all over town, the restaurant’s polished fare makes for a refreshing change of pace.
277 E 10th St
|Cross street:||between First Ave and Ave A|
|Transport:||Subway: L to First Ave, 6 to Astor Pl|
|Price:||Average main course: $21. Disc, MC, V|
|Opening hours:||Mon–Thu, Sun 11am–midnight; Fri, Sat 11am–1am|
|Do you own this business?|