Saxon and Parole – Special Enough for NYC?

When a new restaurant opens, you can wait until the reviews come out to see if you want to attend, or you can chance it and see what you think for yourself. If reservations are not too hard to come by, I prefer option #2 – never trust someone else’s opinion, I say. 
 Saxon and Parole is Brad Farmerie’s ode to locally, humanely raised and produced food. That is a huge fad in NYC that shows no signs of going anywhere, but Farmerie is well known for his Michelin starred game menu at Public, and I was interested to try his spin on the fare here. 
 The restaurant, in the old Double Crown space, is a large, hip restaurant that is teeming with lovely people who have no qualms dropping serious dough on upscale comfort food. 
 Sourdough Bread, Butter and Foie Gras Butter
Warm sourdough rolls with chewy, crackly outsides and moist, sour insides, as good as anything I have had on the West Coast. While it was good with a pat of salted butter melting on the pliant dough, it was even better with a generous smear of the whipped foie butter. Airy and fluffy, almost like mousse, the taste at first was purely butter – rich and creamy. Then, as it warmed on the bread, a meaty scent wafted up and the unmistakable umami, minerally taste of foie gras entered the scene. All too soon it was gone. The combination of rich taste and light, almost ethereal texture was perfect. Little did I know it would be the single best bite I had all night.
 Prince Edward Island Mussels with Fire-Roasted Piquillo Peppers, Capers and Tomato Broth
These mussels were all sweet and opened, with a gentle brininess and very mild flavor. So mild, in fact, that the broth totally overtook the mussels with charred, smoky, salty and acidic flavors. Mussels are delicate creatures, and can’t be thrown with harsh, abrasive flavors. This had no cream, sugar or butter to temper the tastes of the broth. The garlic and salt onslaught had me thirsty all night, and though it was tasty at the time, the broth just did the mussels no favors.
Meat and Cheese Plate with chicken Liver Mousse, Country Pork Terrine, House Smoked Lavender Ham, Coppa, Salame, Mangalista Ham, Various Cheeses and Accompaniments
This plate was…how can I put it? Nothing was bad. Some things, like the delicate lavender smoked ham, which married floral with earthy, and the chicken liver mousse, which was sweet, rich and incredibly meaty, were quite good. But by and large, it was…blah. I enjoyed it, but I can’t remember it. The cheeses were good but not great, the accompaniments were tart and sweet as they need be, and the meats were properly salty and silky, as they should be. But it wasn’t memorable. Every joint in this trend-crazed town is doing charcuterie, and for $30 a plate, yours had better be the best. This wasn’t. 
Unfortunately, that is how I felt about Saxon and Parole. It just wasn’t the best. The food was good, but for the price point it wasn’t a great deal and it wasn’t memorable enough. The service, while kind, was somewhat lacking – this simple meal took well over 3 hours, and not because we were lingering, but because there seemed to be miscommunication between the servers – there were seemingly hundreds of them wandering around, but we couldn’t get anyone to refill water glasses. Saxon and Parole has potential, but it is priced too high and the menu is too unrefined. If this restaurant was in a small town or if the price point were different, it would be a must go. As it is, I would stop in for a drinks and people watching and go elsewhere for dinner. 

Comments

  1. Sippity Sup says:

    Bummer…. GREG

  2. Fritos and Foie Gras says:

    @Greg-totally! I still have hopes that the food will improve though!

  3. Anonymous says:

    You are much more kind than I would have been! Not actually having your namesake whiskey despite listing it as an ingredient in two dishes… not knowing what kind of tuna you're serving… offering corn fed steaks for $50… Unacceptable.

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