Birds and Bites at Bevy
I’m lost in a marble palace on the way to Bevy. Maybe you need to be an out-of-towner or a tourist to master the intricacies of the Park Hyatt on West 57th Street. It’s my first time inside. I discover the lobby is three flights up.
Friends Karen and Andrew have posted raving tweets about Bevy. I email, “Let’s go with you.” We agree to meet in the lounge so we can start with drinks and snacks. They don’t mention that the place is hidden away inside a hotel. Dana and I follow a duo of babes dressed for the beach and almost wind up on the 7th floor.
There was another restaurant in this space when the hotel opened in 2014. I never got to The Back Room. The headline on Steve Cuozzo’s New York Post rant, “Park Hyatt New Resto Will Make Foodies Weep in Anguish,” kept me away.
But now…the four of us are scooped up from the cushiness of the lounge by the maître d’. If we want drinks and snacks, our table inside is ready, he says. The dining area, in upscale earth tones, is small and carpeted with wines in a glass cage, plush banquettes and fresh flowers on every table. Friends are always asking me where to eat that’s quiet. It could be that Bevy is that place, I decide, but maybe only when almost no one else is here.
The house knows what bevy means. There are some modest scrawlings on the menu. Look closely. It’s a fight of birds in a delicate pale khaki calligraphy. Manager Debora Guadarrama tells me the light moving inside a crystal fixture over the bar reflects the birds. No bird calls. Just taped music, not overwhelming.
Karen and Andrew devote a goodly amount of their precious time tonight to studying the cocktail list as waiters cover the table with the coveted snacks, “Bar Bites” on the menu. Spicy pea green hummus rests next to tall sticks of lavash. Little rounds of emmer flour flatbread are topped with burrata, kale pesto, and ‘Nduja. As we fans and Twitter followers know, Karen and Andrew are vegetarians (click here for their website), so she asks to skip the ‘Nduja, a spicy pork spread.
There are housemade “sweet potato chips” too, with French onion dip. Yes, that dip, the first dip you ever mastered as a new bride in the ’60s. Dehydrated onion soup folded into sour cream, as delicious now as it was then.
I’m attacking the warm pull-apart bread, Parker House rolls, indeed, with what might look like butter but is actually a cluster of caramelized onion-boursin cheese balls. Another of chef Chad Brauze’s retro revivals that I find amusing.
It could be that Karen and Andrew are less amused. They never do get their cocktails. Instead the waiter brings four tiki drinks in tall Trader Vic glasses (another resurrection), and I’m the only one sipping. But cleverness is not what counts to me. What matters is that dinner is very good. And that can make you overlook a gaffe or two.
Andrew’s $22 Einkorn “risotto”– wheat berries with fava beans, asparagus and vin jaune — is heady from the mingled scents of morels and mint. Midway through dinner, he trades with Karen to finish her generous $14 bowl of crispy oyster mushrooms and pickled ramps, a deftly seasoned toss. There are many icons of spring for vegetarians tonight that will please veggie-leaning carnivores, too.
Our waiter presents the $78 Green Circle chicken, whole and laced with Bourbon and rye berries, to Dana and me, then takes it away to be carved. He sets the platter with its ruffles of dressed lettuces between us. I take a thigh and he serves Dana a large chunk of juicy breast. The bird is clearly a dinner for four.
But the crisp, fat paprika steak fries are the hit of the evening. At Karen and Andrew’s direction, we’re having two $10 orders. “I’d come here just for these fries,” says Andrew. Ditto from me.
We choose strawberries and cream and the sculptural Pavlova for dessert. They are flanked by the house’s gifts — the $24 collection of five éclairs and the candied apple pie wrapped in a sugar cookie crust with a globe of vanilla ice cream coated in caramel. An instant favorite. The tiny crown on the peanut butter éclair evokes Elvis, the King.
We leave carrying home the leftover chicken, Dana the white meat, me the dark, in stylish shopping bags. At the curb, the doorman chooses us to get a free ride home from the hotel car. I try to pass the treat along to Karen and Andrew. But they have decided to walk home. I get to be the sloth.
I’m shocked on returning a few days later to discover my guests parked in the bar by an inhospitable refusal to seat incomplete parties. One of my least favorite rules in mostly uncivilized joints. I’m instantly grumpy. But now we’re all here so what can the door guardian do? These are friends who take turns at shared dinners putting me next to their good ear (they each have one). I wait for them to appreciate the comparative serenity in the mostly empty room.
Now I discover a new reality. There are no free snacks. Even the warm onion bread must be bought. It’s $7. But $10 for the tall shards of lavash to drag through spicy green pea hummus seems reasonable so close to One57 with its $100 million penthouse. We divide five crisply candied slices of bacon touched with cayenne and cinnamon, an $11 bar bite that might have been insensitive to insist on last time.
Indeed, except for the rashly over-vinegared Hudson Harvest salad (thins of carrot, radish, beet and shaved mushrooms) and a rerun of the delightfully complex Einkorn risotto, we’re eating and sharing beasts of land and sea. Glasses of the Tensley Syrah are a fruity sip, the perfect red for what we’re eating.
The $48 rib eye cap ordered rare, paired with a whole roasted garlic bulb, is tough and chewy, but tasty. The chef has preserved the purity of a one-and-a-half pound lobster by grilling it just long enough, and smothering it with butter. Skin-on salted new potatoes alongside make me think of clam roasts on the beach.
I’d spied the Mangalitsa smoked pork collar under a glass cloche at the next table, and want one of my own. It arrives with the cloche fully clouded. A waiter lifts the glass, releasing the vapor, and even though I forgot to ask for it “rare,” I’m left with three large, amazingly juicy filets of luscious pig. Too many bar bites? Maybe. I find I can eat only a third of the meat.
My companions agree to share the apple pie (for my research), surrendering to its allure. We stare numbly at pastry chef Scott Cioe’s candy bar platter for two — a jolt of peanut butter with salted malt sherbet.
A coatroom check retrieves my pork leftovers at the front desk. But there is no Cinderella’s coach at the curb. Just a lot of creeping traffic on West 57th Street, and in short order, a taxi. I’m free to report that even for civilians paying full freight, Bevy is worth a visit. Even two.
153 West 57th Street. Third Floor Park Hyatt. 212 897 2188. Dinner Tuesday through Saturday 5:30 to last seating at 9:45 pm. Closed Sunday and Monday.