Dolly Varden is a new cocktail bar and restaurant in the theater district that takes its name from an old trolley car that used to run throughout Manhattan and terminate in the area. Their outdoor seating even takes the form of the old railcar, which is pretty cool.
The indoor space is gorgeous. This place used to be one of the House of Brews locations (same ownership here; the other House of Brews is still open). They really did a great job on the remodel.
This joint was initially intended to be a cocktail bar, which is why you see such amazing drinks on the menu, like this Wooden Nickel, a mixologized version of an Old Fashioned, garnished with an ice rose.
I tried four cocktails and they were all dangerously delicious and slammable.
But once the pandemic hit and threw their bar plans into the wind, they pivoted, bringing on Chef Sean to cultivate a cheffed up bar menu that will keep people coming back for more.
We tried four of the apps on the menu:
Fish sauce brined, lightly breaded and perfectly crisped wings topped with pickled chilis and micro cilantro. Delicious.
Cornmeal Crusted Calamari
Lime sriracha aioli, mango salsa and queso fresco adorn these crispy delights. Similar toppings as the wings.
Killer! Black bean sauce and sambal give this an Asian kick, and the crushed peanuts on top really bring it all together for a dynamic flavor profile.
This was just a sample size portion that Sean wanted us to try, so expect more when you order. There’s bacon, kimchi and gochujang in the broth. These were really great! I wish we had thought to order the full size.
Next up was the burger.
The DV Railcar Burger is topped with tomato confit, melted white cheddar and marrow glazed onions. While that might sound like a heavy burger, it actually ate very light! Absolutely delicious.
Our other main was the Trees Major steak, which is my favorite cut of beef. It has all the flavor of chuck but with all the tenderness of filet mignon.
It’s very rare to see this cut featured on menus, but I think it makes for the perfect bistro steak, as it’s affordable, tender and delicious. Great for a steak frites dish. Here, it was topped with chimichurri and served with some lightly dressed greens. An easy 9/10.
On the side, we also had this fried maitake mushroom. This thing was awesome, especially when swiped with some of that saffron aioli.
I will definitely be back here to try more of Chef Sean’s delicious creations. I hope you can make it over there too, and help bring the theater district back from the brink of extinction!
302 W 51st St
New York, NY 10019