Fresh from a summerlong revamp, Church Street Tavern reopened to a sleek new interior and a globally-inspired gastropub menu from chef Max Renny. Starters include a gem lettuce salad ($12), fashionably dressed in a vinaigrette shot through with nutty bursts of toasted quinoa, Peruvian pop rocks for the sophisticated palate. Uni arancini ($18) encase buttery urchin risotto in a crisp fried shell. The execution is simple, the result moreish.
The crudo menu from Sushi Ko chef John Daley entices with bolder offerings, but a dish of Japanese walnut smoked kampachi ($18) fails to deliver, a gritty cucumber jalapeño cucu overwhelming the delicately incensed fish.
Though the menu aims to lure downtown diners with culinary foams and foreign finery, it's in old-fashioned service and uncomplicated cuisine where the tavern finds its natural footing. Brick chicken ($25) is succulent, the crackly crisp skin rife with the tangy funk of preserved lemon. The unassuming tavern burger ($19) topped with Vermont cheddar, bacon-onion relish and arugula boasts of nothing exotic but is the sleeper hit of the menu. Salty, sweet and savory, it's a simple, excellent combination that reminds you sometimes the most inspired food is the stuff that's closest to home.