Magazine article The New Yorker

Schiller's Liquor Bar

Magazine article The New Yorker

Schiller's Liquor Bar

Article excerpt

131 Rivington St. (212-260-4555)--When Keith McNally, of Balthazar and Pastis, expanded his bistro empire to the Lower East Side, in August, the Zip Code got its first standing limo line. With tile walls, low pressed-tin ceilings, clouded mirrors, and marble-topped tables, Schiller's looks like a Parisian bar from the set of Baz Luhrmann's "La Boheme," and it draws a well-heeled crowd that slaps down platinum cards to pay modest prices for McNally's bistro-style fare.

The food arrives quickly. The watercress salad, confettied with pear shavings, walnuts, and blue cheese, is fresh and playful; the whole sliced avocado is voluptuous, drizzled in vinaigrette. The main dishes--such as steak frites, which comes with bearnaise sauce or au poivre, or the swordfish with lemon and mint--are well-seasoned outside, juicy inside. A dense, sticky toffee pudding comes drenched in warm caramel. In keeping with the delusion that the restaurant's guests are working-class bons viveurs, McNally serves wine in bottles labelled "Cheap," "Decent," and "Good. …

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