- scene: Steakhouse-light; Not quite Barnyard on the Bowery, but there is rustic horsey theme; low lights and some manly touches
- sip: Old Fashioned; seasonal speciality cocktails and slightly over-priced wines by the glass
- savor: Chicken Liver Pot of Deliciousness; razor clam appetizer; pork chop; potato salad
- sit: This could be a good place to Bro-out, or take people on an expense account; groups of women could try to find lighter bites on the menu, but I think men would appreciate this place a little bit more
- spend: $$$
- address: 316 Bowery (at Bleecker)
- phone number: 212-254-0350
- website: www.saxonandparole.com
I don’t know why I was surprised by the pleasant experience that I had at Saxon and Parole, but it definitely exceeded my expectations and I am happy to spread the word. Besides the recent New York Times review, there was definitely less press/hype for Saxon and Parole than other recent restaurant openings, so to be honest I am not even sure what made me want to go there badly enough to make a reservation two weeks in advance, but everything came together for a truly enjoyable warm- glow filled evening. The restaurant is really big, with an ample sized bar area…the low lighting is flattering and enveloping, and there is a nice buzz throughout the upstairs rooms. Speaking of flattering, the hostess told me she loved my outfit, ahem… We were seated downstairs which I was almost not happy about, but the men’s clubby horsey decor won me over, as did the enormous round booth that we were seated in. There are a lot of thoughtful design touches throughout the space that convey the horse/barn theme cleverly, bordering on literal, but never kitschy. The downstairs room is pretty testosteroney, and the menu is pretty heavy, so I think this would be a great place for a Thursday night boy’s dinner, aka Bankers’ Night Out. My dainty self decided to grab my balls and have an Old-fashioned with Baker’s and it came in a sturdy etched glass, that made me feel strong and manly, in my 7 inch Loubs.
The Times said that the structure of the menu made it hard to order courses in the traditional order, and they also were not amused by the “Pots of Deliciousness” and I take issue with both of these points. To address the latter- um, who WOULDN’T understand what a Pot of Deliciousness is? It is a little less special than a Pot of Amazingness and more filling than a Pot of Fabulousness, duh…And the menu is closely structured like a steakhouse menu, and is conducive to sharing but in no way tempts people to partake in some fringe new way of ordering. Figure it out. To start, we had the chicken liver Pot of Deliciousness, and it was light and whipped and a little sweet, but we still sopped up every ounce of it; three shrimp cocktail (they are priced per piece, and I did get a half shrimp which was weird and confusing but not a dealbreaker); a razor clam appetizer and a buttnernut squash soup. Razor clams usually scare me, but these were chopped and served similarly to a tunafish salad, and had drops of caviar on top, very approachable and not at all creepy.
A note about service: There were a ton of people on the floor, and we always got what we needed, but I don’t think ever from the same person twice. There was an eagle-eyed manager type around that really had a good grasp on what needed to be done, and he ably stepped in to get our drink order, check on our food, etc. I will chalk all of that up to being new…Also, the prices here are definitely more for the crowd that owns the horses, not those hoping to win big at OTB. The lobster is only 1.25 lbs and comes in at a whopping $48, so unless it is stuffed with cash that seems a little extreme. The prices seemed the most out of whack for the main courses.
These main courses, however, were delicious, and a little heavy. My steak was dry-aged whatever 28 days whatever, and it was delicious. Are there more delicious 28 day dry aged steaks in the city-maybe- do I care- not really? Sister’s pork chops had a classic apple pairing, and were juicy and large. The short ribs were comically Fred Flinstone sized, perhaps to justify their $44 price, up there along with the lobster. The bone itself was 7-8 inches, hee hee. There was no discernible flavor-profile, even after boasting of being soaked in Guiness- in short they were pretty fatty, and large enough to feed two people. My friend thought that this dish was more suited to a winter, pre-hibernation menu at a steakhouse, not a dish that people would order at a place where they could potentially be going out for the night after. He was shocked that they were able to find a box big enough for him to take his inevitable leftovers home.
Dessert brought scoops of the liquor laced ice creams, and two of the three were outstanding. We were very full, but lightened slightly in our wallets when the bill came. Saxon and Parole is not horsing around…