The glamour of Parker & Quinn, the new restaurant of New York City’s Refinery Hotel, is evident upon entering. A trio of jazz musicians, a long dark wooden bar, and the dim glow of the ever-trendy Edison bulbs drew me in, and I was seated in a lush green leather banquette and let myself feel the intimate, buzzing energy of the space.
The restaurant features cocktails by mixologist Alex Ott, formerly of Buddha Bar and Sushi Samba; he had designed six signature cocktails for the evening, one of which was a particularly refreshing and aptly named "Luster," featuring gin, white cranberry juice, and cucumber; it was irresistibly pretty, too, with a garnish of a green lotus flower carved from the end of a cucumber.
The beginning of dinner was announced with the presentation of beautiful couple of amuse-bouche: a pretty little hill of beef tartare to spread on bits of bread or a tiny plate of artfully arranged fish, flaky and white and very fresh.
Like the amuse-bouche and all of the food I was served at Parker & Quinn, the appetizers were beautiful, presented cleanly on white dishes and served family-style. But again, they were heavy on the meat options: stout red piquillo peppers stuffed with short rib and pine nuts, spicy conch fritters, delicate purplish arms of baby octopus with romesco sauce. There was a generous plate of crackers and lightly charred pita bread, accompanied by a trio of wonderful dips: a simple hummus, a smoky eggplant puree, and my favorite, a bowl of thick ricotta.
I ordered the vegetarian option, fregola with mushroom ragout, as an entrée, and was happy when it was passed to me; it was lovely, creamy, and fragrant with mushrooms and fresh herbs. There was also a certain — almost suspicious — meatiness to it, thanks to the mushrooms. But according to my companions, the best entrée option was the enormous, glistening ribeye steak with red wine sauce, which revealed a pink center when cut into.
Luckily, the sides were excellent, and largely vegetable: especially memorable were the bright green and perfectly roasted asparagus and the sweet pan corn, cooked fast over high heat.
Dessert was the highlight, with a smooth coconut crème brûlée (though it tasted more of the burnt sugar crust than the coconut) and a Key lime semifreddo that was bright and clean-tasting while being deeply creamy. Ott, the mixologist, is clearly a man who loves his job, and rightfully so. He emerged from behind the bar and put on a show for diners as he prepared absinthe, generously ladling the flaming liqueur from a pot into shot glasses for eager tasters and serving it to them warm, "like warm licorice water," he said.
Parker & Quinn is a gorgeous space, and the food is prepared with real care by chef Jeffrey Forrest. The quality of the meal was undeniable.