We recently ate at Distilled NY, helmed by Momofuku Noodle Bar veteran Shane Lyons, a new-ish restaurant in TriBeCa that opened back in early June. It is a large space; a sprawling, 110-seat restaurant styled after a classic American public house. The menu contains the dishes are familiar, approachable, and hearty but each gets a twist on the flavors.
We started with cocktails of Smuggle n’ Rum made of lavender, banana rum, Angostura bitters, lemon oil ($14) that was good but maybe one orange zest rind too much and the Franklin Fizz a shaken mix of grapes, plum bitter, Angostura bitters, lime, reposado tequila, toasted lager, and an egg white ($14) that was wonderfully balanced and I liked the warm nutty beer notes worked with the frothy egg white.
We did tasted two meads, a fermented honey wine, their funky yet sweet Earle Estates’ “contemporary” mead from upstate New York and their traditional Carol’s Mead from Washingtonville, NY that was smooth and silky. Even though both meads tasted good but for our palates, we can’t handle that much sugar to go along with our meal, unless it’s dessert.
The complimentary bowl of fresh popped popcorn that’s flavored with brewer’s yeast, garlic powder and sea salt was delicious. Not too salty and it’s hard to stop eating it.
We started with the Ahi tuna crudo, burnt scallion, tonnato, radish ($16), which is the best crudo I’ve eaten in a long time. The tuna was super fresh and silky that lends a backdrop to the salty, slightly funky, charred scallion sauce and creamy dots of tonnato sauce. The finely sliced radish added an extra element of bitter freshness. We definitely tasted the Momofuku influence on this dish and it’s a great thing.
The liver paté ($12) with chicken skin crackers, whipped honey, red wine pickled shallot was another hit. The addictive, delicious crispy chicken skin crisps were great by itself. Once you pile on the creamy paté (that isn’t too mineral-y or liver-y), not too sweet honey and pickled shallots, the robust flavors clash harmoniously.
The country fried duck & waffles ($20) served with smoked serrano maple syrup, Thai basil was good but not as thrilling as the former two dishes. The waffle felt like an excessive carb that doesn’t help the dish. The waffle isn’t bad but to have a thickly breaded, deep fried duck breast with a bite of waffle you’re kind of losing the duck as you chew. Beyond that, the Thai basil makes a huge difference for this dish by adding a breath of freshness from all of the fat and carbs.
The seared scallops ($25) with smoked duck breast, ice wine vinegar, friseé is a very solid scallop dish. The scallops were properly seared with a touch of translucence in the center and the friseé with ice wine vinegar were tasty but it didn’t tantalize our tastebuds as we’re hoping.
The vegetable dishes shocked us for the better. The charred broccoli ($16), mushrooms & garlic soubise, black vinegar, garlic chips was phenomenal. The bitter, slightly burnt, crunchy broccoli worked well with the vinegar, garlic and micro herb mixture. Top it with their herb vinegar (found in the separate box with their cutlery, seen here), it takes the dish to a whole different level of deliciousness.
The roasted Cauliflower with shiro miso, pumpkin seeds, sugar snap peas, basil ($13) was delicious as well but felt too hearty for this sweltering summer weather we’re having. Nevertheless, the elements of the dish was perfectly executed and I loved eating the sweet, crisp, sugar snap peas.
The only disappointing dish was during dessert when we had the strawberry cheesecake, pink peppercorn, rhubarb, mascarpone ($8). The cheesecake lacked the spicy, floral kick we’re expecting from the peppercorns found within the cake. The texture of the cheesecake was wonderfully dense and it’s not too sweet.
Overall, Distilled NY is a great place to drop in for a drink and a few plates of very solid savory dishes that won’t disappoint (solo or with friends). Service was very attentive and friendly. The casual, dark wood atmosphere makes it a cool spot to linger around and it’s not too loud when it’s about 70 percent full by the time we’ve left.
To view more photos of this meal, please view the slideshow below (or CLICK HERE for my photo set):