18 9th Ave
(between 13th St & Little W 12th St)
New York, NY 10014
Sorry I’ve disappeared! I tend to do this every year around this time because I’ve learned to stretch my vacation days like I stretch my belly around the holidays. But ladies and gents, we still have a couple weeks before Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Years land on our faces, and these are the weeks to spend with your New York family before you join your real family.
L.N. recently introduced me to The Chester, a new a new American restaurant/bar he is overseeing that opened on the first floor of the Gansevoort. The chef is now Stephen Yen, previously of Catch. Next time you are deciding on a place for drinks, make it The Chester, because if you’re anything like me, you expect quality after-school snacks with that glass of wine.
We started with Tuna Tartare with olive salad and crostini ($16). The Chester is definitely on the pricier side, but the portions are ginormous for an upscale place. You can comfortably share this appetizer between four people ($4 each, not bad), and you each would get at least two to three large spoonfuls of tuna. The tuna was light, fresh, and dressed in a flavorful olive salad. Definitely trumps beer nuts any day.
I insisted on the flatbread, because I love all things bread. We had the Prosciutto Flatbread with prosciutto de parma, arugula, fontina, and truffle oil ($16). The flatbread was also huge, enough to feed four hungry adults. It was just the two of us there, so I took lots of yummy leftovers home. This classic prosciutto flatbread was on the greasier side, which of course was delicious (prosciutto and arugula are like peanut butter and jelly), but made it very filling. If you’re planning to have dinner after drinks, I would suggest getting just one food item. The Chester is like an Italian grandmother, she loves to fill you up.
Well, we were there to stay. And stay we did with a couple more items. Desperate for some greens after a long week, we shared the Lobster Cobb Salad with balsamic vinaigrette ($32 edit: now $28 – like I said, they’re still working to perfect the menu, and this price drop is a great one!). The salad had all the elements of a classic cob with bacon, bleu cheese, avocado, tomatoes, and eggs. Instead of chicken, we were extra fancy and had lobster.
I wish the greens were less finely chopped so I felt more like I was eating a salad than a heavy entree. The salad was good, but given the hefty price tag of $32, I would expect nothing less. Lobster is expensive, and unfortunately, I don’t think this salad served the lobster justice. The strong flavors of the cobb salad (think bacon, avocado, and eggs) hid the wonderful sweet buttery flavor of lobster. I would probably replace the salad with chicken (not offered on the menu) and drop the price tag. Or serve the lobster salad but without all the jazz of the cobb.
I’m a sucker for flavorful skirt steak so got the Marinated Skirt Steak with chorizo hash ($24). I was surprised, though really shouldn’t have been by now, by the shear weight of steak we were served. THIS is worth $24. Despite most items on the menu, that ere on the side of expensive, the steak is almost like a deal.
The cupcakes were very cute, and hypothetically sounded like the perfect small bite of sweetness after a decadent meal. But the cakes were dry, and that really is a killer for cakes. The frosting was great but neither the frosting nor the infused bit of pudding-like moisture could save the dryness of the cake.
The Chester is brand new, so I’m sure it is still working on some of the menu to see what works and doesn’t. I would definitely take advantage of the fact that they’ve decided to be a big-portions player and come for drinks and apps. The space is classy and lit to highlight all our best features, really a quintessential New York after-work spot.