The theme of this particular gastropub seems to be the Canadian outdoors—there’s a maple-leaf crest on the menu, and lots of rustic camp-scene paintings affixed to the walls. As with many establishments in the meatpacking district, the quality of the food tends to vary with the level of hysteria in the room. On that first chaotic evening, my helping of pan-fried cod appeared to have been boiled instead of fried, and the “Guinness braised” beef was sludgy brown and devoid of all beefiness. On another, more placid night, the Idaho trout seemed fresh enough (it’s elegantly smothered in a rich smoked-trout velouté), and the crisp organic chicken tasted nicely of lemons. The roster of fresh salads (one with strips of salmon confit, and another with chicory, apple, and beets tossed with walnuts) provide some relief from this parade of inconsistent grub, although nothing can help you when the poutines hit the table. Your best bet for dessert? The sticky-toffee pudding, of course.
Address: 235 E. 4th St., nr. Ave. B; 212-254-2900
Hours: Sunday, Tuesday through Thursday 6 p.m. to midnight; Friday and Saturday 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. Brunch, Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Prices: Appetizers, $4 to $15; entrées, $17 to $23.
Ideal Meal: Steak tartare, artichoke-and-spinach salad, veal cheeks, sticky-toffee pudding.
Note: The best of the five European beers on tap is the apple-flavored Gouden Caralous, from Belgium.
Scratchpad: Is this a real gastropub? Hell, no. Would I dine there regularly if I lived in Alphabet City? Probably. Zero stars for authenticity, one for the food.
The Inn LW12
Address: 7 Ninth Ave., at Little W. 12th St.; 212-206-0300
Hours: Monday through Saturday 5:30 p.m. to 3 a.m.
Prices: Appetizers, $7 to $15; entrées, $18 to $39.
Ideal Meal: Chicory salad with apple and beets, roast chicken, sticky-toffee pudding.
Note: If you must try the poutines, have the “Classic” (gravy and melted cheese).
Scratchpad: On some nights the food rates a fraction of a star, but on others it’s downright horrible. The location and service take away whatever portion of a star remains.