Todd English is a hard act to follow, but Irvington, the new restaurant in NYC’s visit-worthy W Union Square, successfully brings fresh farm-to-table cuisine to a space that has seen it all. The ground floor zone of the hotel that was previously home to English’s Olives has been completely revamped by Brooklyn-based, internationally-acclaimed design firm Crème. It feels like a completely brand new venue.
Chef David Nichols very astutely uses local resources to his full advantage, namely the Union Square Greenmarket, which sees farms from all over New York State and nearby New England. In peak season, 140 of them bring the freshest produce, meat, fish, poultry and sundry other ingredients to the heart of the city four days a week, just outside the restaurant’s door.
The design of the space itself draws parallels to the Greenmarket ethos of sustainable, natural and organic living. Elements of wood and leather are offset by an urban-industrial palette of blackened metal and glass, with a massive central bar fronting an impressive open kitchen with a brick stone oven, rotisserie and custom built culinary suite.
The menu has a Mediterranean influence but the wonderful ingredients themselves essentially set the tone. Offerings include curated small plates, artisan flatbreads, house-made pastas, and a variety of freshly-roasted rotisserie items ranging from poultry and lamb to market-sourced vegetables. Our two favorite dishes on the dinner menu are the Wild Boar and Roasted Garlic Sausage with marinated roasted peppers, and the Rotisserie Glazed Muscovy Duck with scallion crêpes, Bibb lettuce and baby radish.
Other standout menu items include a Pressed Porchetta Sandwich with roasted cucumber hot sauce and provolone; Duck Confit Potpie with wild mushrooms and black kale; Lamb Tartare with harissa and radish; and Bucatini with chopped porchetta, parmesan, black pepper and egg. Chicken and duck dishes are available as whole or half portions, providing a delectable example of what the rotisserie can do with whole birds. The sausages, pastas and fresh mozzarella cheese are all made in house, while other cheeses and fresh breads are sourced from Beecher’s Handmade Cheese and NYC’s famed Grandaisy Bakery.
We would definitely recommend dining at the bar if the mood strikes you. For one thing it’s well worth watching the skilled and attractive bartenders building their own concoctions like the GG Manhattan, Barrel-Aged Old Fashioned, and Chelsea Grasshopper, or gold standards like a Moscow Mule and Negroni.
It’s also the perfect vantage point for the large-scale pop art painting by renowned contemporary artist Marcus Pierce that hangs prominently above the kitchen. Sexy, cool and mysterious, it features a tongue-in-cheek depiction of the Headless Horseman from the Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving, for whom the restaurant is named.