When mighty roast beef was the English man’s food,
It ennobled our brains and enriched our blood,
Our soldiers were brave and our courtiers were good.
Oh! The roast beef of old England!
This past weekend my wife and I were invited to a “food influencer” event to help promote the new brunch menu at The Shakespeare. I feel like British food gets a bad rep, and isn’t very well represented in NYC (with the exception of a few places like The Spotted Pig and Jones Wood Foundry). That said, I was excited to give this place a try.
The interior is beautiful, and it’s set up like an old timey British tavern downstairs, with a nice elegant dining room and outdoor courtyard upstairs.
My wife had been here about a year ago and spoke highly of the burger, scotch egg and fish and chips.
She’s absolutely right about those fuckers; they’re great. But we sampled a whole bunch of different items this time around, to highlight the brunch menu.
Starting on September 11, 2016, for $19, you get to choose from three types of roasted meats; pork, chicken and beef.
This beef is easily 9/10 for flavor, and when you add the horseradish sauce to it, it is fucking insane. I highly recommend it. The pork comes with an apple-based sauce, and the chicken comes with a “bread sauce” that’s similar to a bechamel. I’d say that my ranking, in order of awesomeness, was the beef, the chicken and then the pork.
But that’s not all you get for the $19. You also get some potato sides, popovers and seasonal veggies.
Make sure you try a Bloody Mary, too. They’re peppery and chock full of horseradish.
This chilled gazpacho soup was really nice on such a hot day too.
And for dessert, we tried the chocolate hazelnut mousse and sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream.
Both were great, but I think my favorite between the two was the toffee pudding pie/cake on the bottom. The flake salt on top really made the flavors pop.
This joint is home to some really excellent cocktails.
I had been eyeballing the place for a while, and when a buddy was in town and staying at a hotel nearby, we decided to go in.
Our bartender, Albert, mixed up the absolute, hands-down best Old Fashioned I have ever tasted. On the menu it is called a Winona, and is made with a few flourishes to the standard ingredients, the most impressive of which is its delivery in a smoke infused bottle.
Watch as the smoke billows out and creates a nose for the drink as you sip it:
I’m not big on the whole “mixology” thing. Mixing drinks is cool but I still call it bartending. Bartending with interesting ingredients doesn’t require a scientific-sounding name. It’s all about pairing flavors, and that’s what any good bar tender should be able to do. Albert is one of those people who takes pride in what he does. He isn’t afraid to try new things and come up with new drinks. I even told him about the Germain Scotsman. His initial reaction was “mixing peaty scotch with anything is blasphemy,” but he embraced the drink with an open mind and found that he actually liked it! It works on many levels.
Anyway, after another visit here for drinks with ANOTHER friend who was in town and staying in midtown, my wife and I finally made it over to try out some of the food.
We started with the scotch eggs. These seem to be made with quail eggs, so the ratio of egg to breading is a bit off. While they tasted really good, had good seasoning and crunch, the egg just got lost a little bit in the breading.
The dry rub chicken wings had nice flavor. If I had to guess, it was some kind of mild jerk spice rub. Very interesting. Good crunch on the outside and nicely cooked inside, and served with a celery and jicama slaw.
We also dug into the pork terrine. The meat was a bit more solid than I expected. When stuff like this is served with toast, I expect more of a spreadable texture. The taste was nice, however, and paired nicely with the mustard and jicama, pepper and cabbage slaw.
Our last savory course was the burger with blue cheese.
I ordered medium, and that seems about right to me on the inside. Perhaps just a bit over?
The pickles, bun, lettuce, tomato and cheese were all on point, but the meat was a little grainy in texture. I think maybe the beef was over worked after it went through the grinder to become a patty. It also could have used a bit more seasoning.
Fries were shoestring style – like McDonalds (a good thing).
For dessert we tried the blueberry upside down cake. This was essentially three small muffin sized cakes served with fresh blueberries (both in the cake and as garnish), tangy orange/lemon curd, whipped cream and basil.
The flavors worked really well together, and the cake was warm and fresh. Even my wife, a baker, gave it her seal of approval.
I’ll definitely be back to try a few more items from the food menu, but it seems like the drinks are really the star of the show here. Nicely done!
UPDATE! IMPROVED BURGER & SECRET BURGER, SAME GREAT COCKTAILS!