The Peacock, the fine dining restaurant portion of the English trifecta, inside the boutique William hotel in the old Williams Club a few blocks away from Grand Central Terminal. The Williams Club was a 100-year-old alumni club bunked up with Princeton’s venue a few years ago. This restaurant, along with the English pub inspired, The Shakespeare is lead under Executive Chef Robert Aikens.
We did take a peek of The William, the cocktail bar, just off the entry of The William hotel. It was a handsome, cozy bar based on the theme of the bowler hat, as you’d see on the framed photographs on the wall and the bowler hat with a peacock feather hanging on the wall near the bar. (It’s a good place to start your date with drinks.)
When our table was ready, we’re taken to a beautiful dining room with a mesmerizing vintage Waterford chandelier, a wall full of Impressionistic-like English themed paintings, and a long banquette. This room looks like a great place for a date, an intimate dinner for birthday or an anniversary.
We started our evening with drinks of a Lillet Rosé and Pisco based, Arbor Blush cocktail and a elegantly dry with a hint of raspberries Estandon Côtes de Provence Rosé 2012.
When you do read the menu, it’s classic British fare but the kitchen makes an updated version of the dishes.
The dressed Jonah crab ($19) is a deconstructed version of the classic. Sweet freshly picked crab meat lightly dressed in lemon chervil mayonnaise that’s neatly packed round of finely shredded, crisp Romaine lettuce, chopped hard boiled eggs, and chervil. It’s refreshing, nicely seasoned and it’s generously portioned.
We also started with pear, chicory, and frisée salad ($13 appetizer/$19 entrée sized) with chunks of smoked bacon, spiced pecans, thin slices of sourdough croutons, tossed in Colman’s mustard vinaigrette with a thin blanket of grated Cheddar. Bold, delicious flavors of spicy, salty, sweet, and briny. The plus is that it’s mostly healthy.
Venturing to heartier fare, the Lancashire hotpot ($24) is essentially a stew. It’s a small cast iron pot filled with thick chunks of 24-hour braised lamb shoulder, roasted vegetables, rosemary, and topped with scalloped Yukon potatoes. The lamb was insanely tasty and fork tender. This is the kind of dish you wish to eat during that Arctic Vortex we had a week ago. Body and soul warming and it would stick to your ribs.
The braised beef shortrib pie ($24) was also served in a mini cast iron pot topped with a buttery, flaky pastry on top. There’s large cubes of tender shortrib in a rich red wine fortified beef gravy and fresh vegetables that would satisfy your hunger. The buttery pastry adds not only richness but there’s added texture of crispy, flaky texture to all things silky and relatively soft.
The pie is accompanied with the option of mashed potatoes or what we had triple cooked chips that we’re delicately crisp exterior and lots of fluffy potato. We also did share a side dish of a very traditional British side bubble and squeak ($6). The main difference of the bubble and squeak is this was made of fresh vegetables – cabbage, brussels sprouts, rutabaga and chunks of potatoes. This dish tasted familiar yet refined.
Heading toward dessert, we wanted to settle our stomachs a bit with refreshingly sweet mint tea from Harney & Sons ($5 per person) served in a beautiful Wedgewood bone china tea pot and tea cups.
The sticky toffee and banana pudding served with chocolate syrup and a scoop of flapjack ice cream ($9). The hot pudding cake was gooey and very sweet by itself and when drizzled with the dark, bittersweet chocolate syrup, it doesn’t taste as cloying. I liked the flapjack ice cream, which was essentially a vanilla oatmeal infused ice cream. I wished I had a pint of that ice cream for myself to go.
There’s an oddly named but very old school English dessert, spotted dick ($9). It’s a steamed sponge pudding with sweet currants, brightened with lemon zest and coated in a warm vanilla custard sauce. This tasted like a lighter dessert compared to its cousin, sticky toffee pudding. Both desserts are soul warming and very hearty.
In all, the meal was great. Service was old school refined (they even drape your napkin on your lap), friendly, attentive and well versed on the menu. The food was very delicious and hearty that it does feels and tastes apt for a cold winter’s night.
We did take quick peeks of The Peacock’s back private room (that has a gorgeous peacock printed wallpaper).The Library Room across the bar, The William is a cozier, sophisticated lounge that I could imagine enjoying an afternoon tea during the day (if and when they do serve it) or a having a date with drinks during the night.
Downstairs is the English pub and restaurant, The Shakespeare. One large room has flat paneled TVs showing a football game and have a good pint of beer on tap and rustic like an English pub. There’s a cool, small enclosed room called the snug (partially seen here), located next to the bar. The snug is a small, private room with a hatch that you may order some food or glasses of beer with a couple of friends and yourself without anyone interrupting you. Across the hall is a smaller dining room that’s part of The Shakespeare where you really feel like you’re in a charming English pub.
To view more photos of these visit, please view the slideshow below (or CLICK HERE):
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