Daily Archives: December 29, 2013

Restaurant Review : Willow Road (NYC)

A couple of nights ago I went to a fairly new restaurant on the outskirts of the meatpacking district in Manhattan called Willow Road (85 Tenth Ave b/w 15th & 16th).  I had read a few reviews on the place and most were very good so when it came time to suggest an alternate restaurant for the evening (Alder was our first choice but booked), I thought it would be a good bet.  It was an interesting experience and we had a fun evening but it’s not a place I would return to again as there are many more restaurants in Manhattan with better food and better service for the same price point.

The ambiance of the restaurant is quite nice and unpretentious, and I imagine if we had been there on a busier night it would have been more noisy.  It gives off the air of an old bar with dark paneling and dim lighting.  The bar area is quite welcoming and seems like the kind of place I would go as a local for a drink.  We were greeted with a smile and seated promptly.  The wine list is quite good and the menu is very interesting including some off the wall items like Boiled Peanuts and Roasted Bone Marrow.  We ordered the Delicata Squash, Fries, Short Rib Meatballs, Braised Octopus, and Fried Chicken.

So why wasn’t I blown away by this place?  The squash was very flavorful, albeit a bit salty.  The meatballs were ok and I know I can make better.  Their only saving grace was the marinara with a kick that accompanied them. The octopus was not chewy which is always good, but it had an almost grainy texture to it which wasn’t all that pleasing.  The fried chicken was a disappointment as I had read many reviews stating it as the best ever.  The chicken was good – super crispy on the outside and moist on the inside – however the description promised something with jerk spices and an orange honey glaze.  What we got was all honey glaze and no spice whatsoever; to the point that the chicken was too sweet even.  In my opinion, if you’re not really adding any spice to a food item, just don’t say so – a menu description sets expectations and this one failed miserably in delivery.  Sadly the fries were our favorite food ordered that evening.  They were thick wedges of potatoes that were well seasoned with herbs, salt and pepper, crispy on the outside, moist on the inside and served with a delicious dipping sauce.

One note for the owners of Willow Road – please either make the font on your menu larger or make the lights brighter.  It is impossible to read without a magnifying glass and a flashlight, and my age has nothing to do with it this time – it is THAT small!!!

My favorite snafu at Willow Road is the bar tender who claims to be a mixologist.  If that is indeed true, the owners should seriously send him back to mixology school.  My friend ordered the same drink off the menu three times and got three completely different drinks each time.  They weren’t even similar in the ingredients with one containing blueberries and the next containing ginger and cucumber water. We didn’t complain because each iteration tasted good and we were having fun, but thank goodness a glass of wine needs no mixing.

For all the hype around this newbie, I’ll have to pass on it.  I know it seems like I’m not having a lot of luck with restaurants in Manhattan lately, but I’ll make a side note on two restaurants I went to about two weeks ago that were very good – Craftbar and La Pizza Fresca – both in the Flatiron district.  The Arancini at Craftbar was the best I’ve ever had (sorry MM) and the pizza at Pizza Fresca is always fantastic. I needed to end the last article on a positive note after all.

And so I bring 2013 to a close and wish you all many adventures in the culinary world in the new year!!

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