There are a ton of small plates restaurants in NYC. It’s a market that is heavily saturated, and in order to stand out from the crowd or even last, you had better be pretty damn great at what you do. At the very least, the food should be delicious, the service should be efficient, and the prices should be commensurate with the experience.
Let’s see how Kingswood measures up, shall we?
This west village restaurant is dark and eccentric, sort of a Narnia-meets-Anthropologie feel. Think long wooden tables, a happening bar scene, and a cozy, but not cramped, feel. Perfect for a double date, dinner with a friend, or a quick drink at the bar.
An auspicious start the meal. The quail is roasted until it has some lightly charred spots on the skin but the meat is still very juicy and woodsy, slightly pink in the center. Quail, like duck, can and should be eaten cooked medium at most. This quail, a cross between duck and pork to my tastes, is earthy, pleasantly musky, and very rich. The bones crunch pleasantly beneath the teeth, and some can even be eaten along with the supple meat. The fregola sarde, toasty and plump, are filled with the garlicky, meaty juices from the quail meat, interspersed with ribbons of fresh spinach. A wholly satisfying dish.
Another great appetizer. The dip is smoky and mild, with no fishiness. It really tastes more meaty than fishy, with just the slightest salinity that lifts the dish from being too creamy and smoky. The treviso, dressed lightly so it is crisp and vinegary, cuts through the somewhat heavy dip. Served with tiny crostini, this is a knockout appetizer, though perhaps a bit expensive for the portion size.
Another tasty, though somewhat misguided dish. The fritter, crisp without and tender within, is a hearty porcine treat that desperately needed something other than a rich, gooey egg yolk to temper it. The yolk added some moisture, but also dulled down the already subtle taste of the pork. Some sort of vinegary, chile-tinged sauce would have really catapulted this dish from good to great. The portion size was also quite meager.
The biggest miss of the night. The meat is sloppily cut and a bit mushy. The feel of it is very wet, exacerbated by the quivering raw quail egg yolk on top – usually inviting and here way over the top. The seasonings are obscured and so is the taste of the meat. This is very disappointing, and too small to boot.
Kingswood…I wanted to love you. Most of your food was quite good. But it was also served in very small portions, especially given the price point – I actually had a post meal slice of pizza to quell my hunger. The service was also totally bizarre. The food was paced oddly – sometimes there were piles of empty dishes on the table, sometimes we were waiting for what seemed like years on end for our next dishes, and more than once, a wrong dish was delivered to our table. The staff was quite nice but totally haphazard and it created a rather disjointed dining experience, rather than a relaxing, smooth one. I can’t fully recommend this place – even though the quail was downright wonderful. However, with some work on the service and a readjustment of either the prices or the portions, I would be happy to give this place another shot. I definitely think that it has potential.