Magazine article The New Yorker

Allen & Delancey

Magazine article The New Yorker

Allen & Delancey

Article excerpt

The British chef Neil Ferguson is in the midst of a Tony Dungy-esque moment at Allen & Delancey. Dismissed last year by Gordon Ramsay after an iffy start at his midtown restaurant, Ferguson decamped to the Lower East Side, where he has beenat least to judge from reviews and the covetedness of reservationshaving the season of his career. In exile, Ferguson has certainly loosened up. Dinner begins, invitingly, with warm bacon rolls brushed with sage butter. The cheeses are domesticKunik from the Adirondacks and Bayley Hazen blue from Vermont, by way of Anne Saxelby's shop, at the Essex Street Market. No carts, no domes, no trolleys. By contrast, one night not too long ago at Gordon Ramsay, when a man remarked that he had some Stilton in the fridge, the fromage guy shrieked, "You freeze your cheese?"

The service at Allen & Delancey is less hyper-professional but more helpful. Recently, a waiter recommended a 2005 Artadi Vias de Gain Rioja to accompany several appetizers, noting, "You won't be able to get it anymore, because Parker just gave it, like, a ninety-five." The bone marrow, however, raised the inevitable comparison to Prune, and Ferguson's version did not prevail. For one thing, it arrives prexcavated, which not only deprives you the pleasure of digging but calls attention to the marrow's texture rather than its flavor, a bad bet with gelatinous foodstuffs (there's a reason that escargot are more fun when they come with their shells). …

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