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Restaurant Openings

Week of September 15, 2008: The Libertine, Bloomingdale Road, De Santos, and Ninth Street Espresso.

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Bloomingdale Road  

The Libertine
15 Gold St., nr. Platt St.; 212-785-5950
When you think about Wall Street’s old Anglicized private dining clubs—not that you ever do—you probably don’t think caviar sliders. The phrase “cozy yet sleek” does not spring to mind. Nor does the thought of talking hot stocks over an “imaginative cocktail.” None of this, however, has stopped the owners and publicists behind the Libertine, the posh duplex bar and restaurant opening this week at the new Gild Hall hotel. Part Thomas Crown chess den, part gastropub, the leather-and-mahogany-bedecked Libertine is designed to evoke a swinging seventies-era London clubhouse, according to the press materials. To that end, executive chef Todd English has concocted a menu of vaguely British-inspired comfort food given his signature layers-of-flavors treatment—including the aforementioned sliders, which come festooned with quail eggs and crème fraîche, a “Kobe” dog, and a rack of lamb with a Moroccan shepherd’s pie. For breakfast, there’s the “NY Bene”—the improbable marriage of a pastrami sandwich with a plate of eggs Benedict (pictured).

Bloomingdale Road
2398 Broadway, at 88th St.; 212-874-7400
Ed Witt has done rustic Mediterranean (Il Buco) and highfalutin wine bar (Varietal). Now, in the revamped former Aix space, he turns his attention to American small plates. In a daring effort to demonstrate that dining out on the Upper West Side can be fun, Witt’s menu is rife with all sorts of playful, crowd-pleasing things like chicken potpie, smoked deviled eggs, Coca-Cola country ham, fish tacos, and three kinds of fries. There are twenty or so wines by the glass to wash it all down, daily tasting menus, and a chef’s table for private parties. If none of that lifts your spirits or reconnects you with your inner child, there’s a peanut-butter-and-jelly tart with marshmallow ice cream for dessert.


De Santos
139 W. 10th St., nr. Greenwich Ave.; 212-206-9229
De Santos is the fourth location of a proliferating chainlet and the joint venture, in part, of a Cuban-Colombian drummer, his Mexican-Italian brother-in-law, and two Italian veterans of Savanna’s in Southampton. The restaurant group originated in Mexico, as did Alex González’s Latin rock band, Maná. But that provenance isn’t reflected in De Santos’ modern Italian menu, which resembles Savanna’s and includes dishes like roasted Long Island duck, almond-crusted lamb chops, and cavatelli with mussels and cannellini beans (pictured; entrées $20 to $27). Occupying the basement and ground floors of the Greenwich Village brownstone that previously housed Caffé Torino, De Santos is equipped with a patio, an international wine list, and the all-important sound system—because according to partner Luis Miguel Amutio, “Food tastes better with music.”

AND … The third branch of Ninth Street Espresso has opened, somewhat confusingly, on Tenth Street, with a 25-foot standing ledge that wraps around the room, and a handful of stools that will disappear during the weekly public cuppings that owner Ken Nye plans to launch in October. Balthazar pastries are on offer alongside the main attraction—a roster of espresso drinks, plus French-press pots of coffee made with single-origin beans from Portland’s Stumptown Coffee Roasters (341 E. 10th St., nr. Ave. B; 212-777-3508).


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