In New York City, you can throw a rock in any direction and find a fantastic restaurant. Luckily I didn't have to throw stones to find Albert Hall Tavern. I was invited. Good thing too; I throw like a girl.
Albert Hall Tavern is a new restaurant in the Hells Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan. They offer a style of food called "Nouveau Americain" which is the kind of grub my octogenarian Texan grandparents would try and say, "This kinda looks like regular ol' American food, but it tastes really gore-may." And I would have to agree with Bob and Sue--this restaurant definitely takes American classic fare and bumps it up another level.
The host of the event looked so much like Nate Berkus I was half-expecting a live furniture-arranging demo or at least a goodie bag filled with pillow shams and decorative knick-knacks. Alas, the topic of the hour was food. We were offered a 7-course tasting menu of the restaurant's best dishes. The group assembled consisted mostly of food bloggers and some restaurant professionals. I sat with four people who knew a lot more about food than I did. One was even trained at Le Cordon Bleu. I slipped my Grandma's taco recipe in her handbag when she wasn't looking.
There was plenty of seafood, which always pleases this Gulf Coast girl. One of my favorites was the tuna tartare with capers. It was really fresh, and the capers added a tinge of saltiness.
Alas, I do not like everything raw. Most people look at a silver tray of raw oysters as a rare treat. Me? I started convulsing with flashbacks of my dad propping me up on a bar stool and pretty much force-feeding me these things as a kid to advance my palette. What a rough childhood I had. I much preferred the restaurant's spicy fried oyster option; the subtly named "Screaming Oysters From Hell". It was really funny seeing a bunch of oyster shells riding across the table on teeny-tiny Harley's.
The mussel course was quite good too, but our table unfortunately didn't get much of the charred rosemary and black garlic broth they were served in. A girl named Sarah who writes NYC nom nom said it was her favorite thing on the menu. She's a regular, so I believe her.
This was my favorite--the braised short rib crostini with horseradish and mustard seed. I ate 20 of them. Okay, I ate two. But I would have eaten 20.
My favorite was a beer from Belgium called Triple Karmelit. Yes, it tasted faintly of caramel and yes, that's why it was my runaway favorite. I choose caramel-flavored over wheat-flavored any day. For people who are into a vast selection of hard-to-find beers, this restaurant and bar is a real gem.
The grand finale of the evening was when the chef rolled out a whole roasted suckling pig. The meat was tender and flavored with maple rum. This is the special on Saturday nights because nothing says "Let's party." like a good old-fashioned pig roasting.
If anyone else is planning a night out to Albert Hall Tavern anytime soon, call me. I'd go back in a second. The restaurant is cozy and comfortable, the staff is warm and knowledgeable and the food is delicious and well-priced.
* Full disclosure: I did not pay for this meal. I was invited. Lucky me, eh?