The whiff of the hipster at Rye is undeniable—note the mismatched flea-market tableware, the salvaged turn-of-the-20th-century decor, the signless exterior. The vibe could easily inspire skepticism, if not slight intimidation. And yet the three-month-old American bistro from chef Cal Elliott (DuMont, Dressler) is unexpectedly egalitarian. This could stem from the simple fact that the chef-owner has prepared a menu of high-quality, delicious food at a very reasonable price point. An artichoke stew reminded us of an update of DuMont’s signature white-bean and artichoke salad; only in place of delicately fried baby artichokes and toothsome legumes, Rye offers fragrant artichoke hearts in their braising liquid with firm flageolet beans, highly concentrated oven-roasted tomatoes and a splash of basil oil. Another generous starter featured grilled sardine fillets heaped over zingy preserved tomatoes on a thick slice of country bread, drizzled with salsa verde. Elliott shows as much confidence executing bar food as he does with refined fare. The same chef who created a sandwich of melting short ribs with creamy garlic-horseradish vinaigrette excelled at delicate butter-poached lobster with citrusy corn salsa, sweet corn flan and a crme frache--enriched avocado mousse. The cocktails, created by Dram’s Tom Chadwick, featured a tight list of both classic and original concoctions worthy of the antique setting. We savored the Hemingway, an ambrosial blend of white rum, maraschino liqueur, and grapefruit and lime juices. There were some glitches—too many dishes on the menu were no longer being offered the night we visited, resulting in a somewhat annoying, lengthy recitation of omissions and additions. And when it came to dessert, the most tantalizing offering on the short list, the doughnuts, was already sold out. An overly sweet steamed lemon cake with berries and whipped cream, though pretty as a picture, was all texture (intriguingly airy) with very little flavor (where was the tang?), and a warm chocolate cake, though perfectly good, was just a warm chocolate cake. Despite those shortcomings, there is real talent and pride coming from the kitchen at Rye. It’s a restaurant that projects a quality all too rare among the hipster brood: sincerity.
Time Out says
- 247 South 1st St
- Cross street:
- between Havemeyer and Roebling Sts
- Subway: L to Bedford Ave
- Average main course: $18. Disc, MC, V
- Opening hours:
- Mon – Thu 5:30pm – 11pm; Fri, Sat 5:30pm - 12am; Sun 5:30pm - 10:30pm; Sat, Sun brunch 11am
- Do you own this business?
- Sign in & claim business
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