It was my wife’s birthday and she had chanced upon the latest list of NYC restaurants awarded Michelin stars. She sent me the website of Dressler in an email and asked what I thought. Like a good spouse I said, “Whatever you want, you get.”
Thank god. Dressler blew us away from start to finish, from the ambience of an old wood and steel bar, ornamented carved lightboxes, red leather cushions, and black leather booths. Happy hour started at 5:30. We were so there.
The relaxed and empty bar before six invited the novice to their specialty cocktails. We ordered our selections and were pleased with the fact that none of them were sweet but instead volunteered their flavor readily: cucumber for the Ingenue and beet for the Stackhouse. The Kumumoto oysters tasted like heaven, like urchin in a half-shell, their trademark smaller fluted shells cleaned nicely for one’s eager mouth. Kumumotos are considered the aristocrat of oysters and apparently have their own following. I want to know where to sign up.
Was it wrong to order scotch before dinner? This is what my wife wanted to do when they saw their selection. The place is fancy but not intimidating or pretentious. We’d totally go back for drinks and appetizers at their solid metal countertop.
We started with the fried artichokes which had a distinct briny crunch without being greasy. The fried citrus was an interesting sensation on our tongues which were happy enough with the arugula and just the right amount of dressing and parmesan.
The octopus was a winner in being nicely grilled and accentuated by the fennel and radicchio, as well as a light tzatziki-like dressing as a side.
Why not steak? Peter Luger’s was across the street but Dressler did not disappoint. The hanger steak was tasty and juicy and the braised veal cheek might as well have been butter in my mouth. The onion jam, potatoes and spinach were a good side, although I could have done with just a little bit of the bordelaise drizzled around the meat instead of having the dish sit in it. But nothing goes wrong with a good bordelaise.
I am wary of ordering fish because of its fragility to heat and seasoning. This salmon was cooked perfectly, juicy and barely cooked on the inside but with the crunch of its skin on the outside. The corn was a perfect side to it as well.
I keep claiming we’re not dessert people, and that we never finish our desserts, but we definitely finished these. The Banana Tart Tatin was delicious with the puff pastry topped with stewed bananas reminiscent of those in my homeland. Macadamia brittle, oh my! Love.
We were also recently introduced to pannacotta by friends at a neighborhood Italian restaurant and have since enjoyed the light tartness of this flan. When they said at Dressler that the special was butterscotch pannacotta, it was on! We were not disappointed. Even their teas were out of the ordinary. We left stuffed and happy.
Leaving a pleasant experience at Dressler made me realize that while some places do things exceptionally well, some do it so well that they really should teach the others how it’s done. Dressler totally deserves that Michelin Star, an award I never closely followed until I went to a restaurant recently that had two stars but failed in my standards. We’ll be back at Dressler very, very soon.
Brooklyn, NY 11211