1 at 23rd St.
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This venue is closed.
There are clichéd qualities about Varietal that a jaded, obsessively nitpicky restaurant critic might choose to bring up. Like the hokey chandeliers constructed from wineglasses, or the friendly though slightly overarticulate waiters who offer endless recitations of the abstract and sometimes downright weird food. But in the end, the whole potentially grim scene is rescued by the cooking, which is highly complex, aggressively trendy, and often pretty good. Hen-of-the-woods mushrooms don’t go with lemon verbena, it turns out (especially when they’re pallidly cooked). But it’s possible to braise good pork belly in tobacco (it’s possible to braise good pork belly in anything), provided you make the skin nice and crackly and serve it with baby collard greens. And a scallop can survive an encounter with pomegranate, provided it’s fresh, well seared, and flavored with cumin and a touch of cardamom.