In this week’s fall-preview issue, we introduced you to Peter Cho, chef de cuisine at the Breslin Bar and Dining Room at the Ace Hotel. But we had a feeling you might want to learn more about the latest project from the Spotted Pig crew that’s scheduled to open in phases between now and October. At the moment, you can visit the lobby bar for cocktails and wax-paper bags of pork scratchings, and if you happen to be a hotel guest, you’ll soon have access to Breslin-made room service before tucking yourself into one of the Ace’s bunk beds. For everyone else, here are a few things to look forward to once the joint is up and running, sometime in October.
1. There will be meat, and lots of it. Chef-partner April Bloomfield’s “intense meat program” takes philosophical inspiration from London’s Fergus Henderson, the guru of nose-to-tail cooking. “The cut will go on the main menu, the trimmings we’ll make into terrines and sausages,” says Bloomfield. What kind of terrines, you ask? For starters, rabbit with bacon and Armagnac, served with a tarragon salad with prunes, cornichons, and shallots, and a guinea-fowl terrine with morels. There will be housemade sausages, bacon, and hams and, for those with foresight to preorder and the flexibility to dine late-night, a slow-roasted lamb’s head with rosemary, garlic, and red wine. (Charcuterie challenges: There was a bit of a crisis when the chefs couldn’t locate a good local source of top-notch pig’s blood. “But then we found out that D’Artagnan always carries it,” says Cho.)
2. No reservations for the 130 seats, give or take, except for the big round table overlooking the open kitchen, which partner Ken Friedman calls their take on the Algonquin Round Table. That’s where, instead of making witty bon mots and clever cultural observations, large parties can devour whole family-style suckling-pig feasts.
3. The space contains two bars — one downstairs, with a drink rail opposite, and a smaller one tucked away on the mezzanine, a quasi-private area constructed from former storage space. And to drink: a hundred wines under $100, all from the northern hemisphere. Microbrews, including a custom-crafted stout, will be produced locally or in the Northwest, as a tribute to Ace’s roots. Beverage director Dennis O’Connor is also tweaking classic cocktails, like a Negroni made with a balsamic-red-wine reduction.
4. Architectural firm Roman and Williams exposed the century-old ceiling and divided the grand space into rooms within rooms, making nooks and crannies to create a sense of intimacy. Leather-clad, curtained-off booths will have push buttons to summon the waiter. “This is a real pub, like the Spotted Pig but bigger and more meat-focused,” says designer Robin Standefer. “The architecture and the food have to speak the same language.” Friedman collaborated on the look, contributing what he calls “my usual clutter. I’m finding animal knickknacks and making sconces out of them.” Also, there’s talk of a glass box above the bar, but instead of installing taxidermy, Friedman intends to make it a planter. “We’ll have a farm and grow corn, tomatoes, and herbs.”
5. Like the Spotted Pig, the Breslin will be casual, equal parts pub and restaurant, with butcher-paper-covered wood tables and plenty of bar seats for dining. Prices, too, will be Pig-like — “if not cheaper,” says Bloomfield.
6. There will be, alas, no gnudi. No shoestrings, either. Instead, Bloomfield and Cho are perfecting a British-style chip, one Cho calls “a little fluffy and airy, that stays crispy forever.” Also, at lunch, look for a cheese sandwich with a fried egg, which is Bloomfield’s twist on a croque-madame: three kinds of cheese and housemade ham, with a hole cut out and an egg fried in the middle.
The Breslin Bar and Dining Room opens in October at 20 W. 29th St., nr. Broadway.