BLACKBARN NYC Restaurant Review by Bill Boggs - New York City Article
BLACKBARN Restaurant Review Follow @nyccitiview
By Bill Boggs
I'm always happiest when I can profile restaurants and chefs that I can highly recommend. I've been on the New York restaurant scene for many years, and unless an establishment grabs me and wants to pull me back again and again, I pass on giving it coverage.
Thus, when I tell you to visit Chef/Owner John Doherty's pulsating BLACKBARN Restaurant in the NoMad area of Manhattan, I am urging you TO GO!
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BLACKBARN Restaurant NYC Reviews
In a way, the place is an oasis. Its rustic barn feel immediately transports you from the modern metal, glass, and sometimes chilly environments of some of the town's newer spots to a large, but cleverly laid out restaurant offering true warmth. The design and culinary intelligence about the place comes from its acclaimed chef/owner, John Doherty himself.
I first met John when I covered his tenure as Executive Chef at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel for my PBS TV show, "My Generation."
At the time, I was impressed with him personally and professionally. It was a massive operation, as you can imagine. He succeeded in turning out high-quality food for the hotel's restaurants, catering and room service. Of note, he knew the first and last names of his more than three hundred employees. That's impressive leadership. If you're interested, you can see that interview with Chef Doherty at the Waldorf on my You Tube Channel, Billboggstv.
Now comfortably in his own place, he's created a welcoming ''destination restaurant,'' by showcasing innovative farm-to-table upscale American dishes, creative drinks and friendly, professional service in a setting of rustic elegance. There is ample space between all tables, an element of restaurant design which I prize.
The lighting is low enough to be flattering and bright enough to be able to read the menu easily. John's vision for the restaurant is, "to create an environment of raw, natural surfaces ie. Stone, steel, wood, leather etc, where people can relax, be themselves and enjoy refined, food and wine while feeling a true sense of care from the staff. The dining experience is built on attention to detail. From the table top of hand crafted plates and T- bar utensil rests to hand stitched leather chairs and blues music, all the senses are stimulated to make dining a complete experience."
I dined with three friends, one of whom described the experience as, "a wonderful place for a celebratory dinner or an intimate tete-a-tete, I would return happily, and hungrily."
The evening started with three wonderful appetizers. We shared a small Porcini Confit White Pizza with mangalitsa, spicy coppa, arugula, caramelized onions and truffle oil, which was a most satisfying and original creation. A mesmerizing Truffle Ricotta Gnocchi (listed as a side dish) was ordered as an appetizer and proved to be one of the highlights of the evening.
The third starter was a vibrantly garnished Grilled Baby Octopus with chickpea puree, fennel, orange and sundered tomatoes. A trip to the Blackbarn for a glass of white wine and that Truffle Ricotta Gnocchi alone is well worth the trip. The same applies to the Juniper-cured Sea Trout with savory crepes, dill creme fraiche, salmon roe and winter salad.
As entrees, we loved the Double-Cut Ribeye for Two, which is dry-aged 35 days and 100% certified Angus grass-fed beef. The substantial Denver Lamb Chops were presented with mushroom bread pudding, preserved tomatoes and braised artichokes.
Venison Culotte was delicious as paired with roasted sunchokes, caramelized onions and foie gras. The venison included another one of the evening's highlights: venison ravioli. I had to ask what makes this so special and Chef Doherty was quick to explain, "The filling in the raviolo (large ravioli) is braised Venison shoulder. The raviolo is boiled until tender, it’s bathed in a butter sauce with Parmesan cheese and then draped with a black truffle sauce."
Chef John Doherty further explained to us the attention to detail in this dish,"Venison is a favorite of the Chefs at BLACKBARN. It’s local, seasonal, flavorful, versatile and lean. The only danger with cooking lean meat is its ability to be dry when over cooked, so that’s why you’ll generally get it served medium rare. I love combing a well seasoned cut of meat roasted to medium rare and paired with another cut from the same animal but braised slowly or turned into a sausage. Not all cuts cook the same so combining the braised shoulder of venison in a raviolo with seared tri tip makes for a very interesting combination."
The desserts scored big. The Apple Cider Doughnuts were transcendent--made to order, wow! And the Chocolate Souffle with vanilla sauce was a show stopper. It circulated around our table to rave reviews.
As I said at the start, I heartily recommend John Doherty's BLACKBARN Restaurant. It's hard to imagine your not being impressed and truly satisfied by the dining experience.