March 27, 2015
Visit Irvington, a farm-to-table restaurant in the W New York
Gerber Group and Chef David Nichols' farm-to-table restaurant in the W Hotel's Union Square location is the place to dine.
by Nicole Haddad
New York City is a mecca for the food cognoscenti. While restaurants in this city come and go, some surpass the buzz-worthy first years and gain a staying power that projects them into landmark status. And so we predict this staying power is what Gerber Group's laidback restaurant and bar, Irvington (201 Park Avenue South; at 17th Street), will attain. With a menu that serves Oysters in Roasted Cucumber Hot Sauce & Mignonette, Black Kale Caesar, Grilled Wild Coho Salmon, is there any doubt?
Located in the space formerly holding chef Todd English's Olives for more than a decade (New Yorker's with a penchant for late night Appletinis will remember this restaurant and bar well), Irvington gained notoriety before even opening. With backing from Gerber Group—one of the most innovative hospitality and nightlife proprietors in the industry—and with a menu and concept spearheaded by executive chef David Nichols, the restaurant continues to have newcomers flocking to its tables. Gerber Group, the brains behind restaurants and lounges such as Kingside, Whiskey Park, and The Roof, formed the perfect marriage with David Nichols—formerly the executive chef at Marc Murphy's Benchmarc Restaurant Group. Nichols presided over flocked-to restaurants such as Landmarc in the Time Warner Center.
Nichols does not disappoint. Irvington's proximity to the Union Square Greenmarket is used to full advantage. Each Mediterranean-inspired dish is infused with ingredients from local farmers and purveyors—offering a complete farm-to-table environment. Mouth-watering dishes off the locally-sourced and seasonally-driven menu include plates such as the Bucatini with Chopped Porchetta (an absolute must), Free Range Chicken with Marble Potatoes and Grilled Leeks (freshly roasted off the rotisserie), and Lamb Tartare with Harissa and Radish (a favorite of Nichols'), and Asparagus with Poached egg and 'Ndjua Vinaigrette.
All in all, this seems right up Nichols' alley. Having grown up on a fruit tree farm in Central Washington, Nichols developed a passion early on for serving up food with locally sourced, organic ingredients. "We work with the farms at the Greenmarket to build relationships," says Nichols. Whatever is brought in that day, we use as specials." That's about as fresh as you can get. As for Gerber Group? In Nichols' opinion, they are constantly elevating they're game and staying with the times. Who doesn't want to eat local these days?
The restaurant's design, taken on by the Brooklyn-based, yet internationally known design firm, Crème, infuses the space with a cozy, inviting ambience. Organic elements such as wood and leather commingle with blackened metal and glass—providing an industrial yet warm palette that reflects a farm-to-table approach. An open kitchen with views of the brick oven, rotisserie, and culinary suite are a welcome trend the design firm played up to full tilt. You can watch the restaurant's signature flatbread pizzas go from oven to mouth.
Not so interested in a meal? The middle of the restaurant is home to an attractive bar with an even more enticing list of drinks. The Irvington, (we highly suspect there is star power in these libations), offers truly noteworthy, retro-inspired cocktails such as the Barrel-Aged Old Fashioned, the Chelsea Grasshopper, and the Swizzled Mojito. For those interested in more of a craft cocktail, the restaurant's in-house bottled cocktails such as the Moscow Mule and Sparkling Negroni will delight. Regionally brewed beers, spirits, and a carefully curated and price-tiered wine list, designed to complement the food, are on hand.
We highly recommend the Nebbiolo if an Italian red is your choice! As for cocktails, we went bananas for Stramaro Never Dies, an intoxicating concoction of Belvedere vodka, Amaro Nonino, fresh muddled strawberries, lime, and a half-salted rim. The Spicy Paloma, made with Casamigos blanco, Thai-chili aperol, fresh grapefruit juice, and grapefruit soda, came in a close second.
Feeling guilty for enjoying yourself so much? Worry no longer, you can also learn a bit about the neighborhood's iconic literary resident, Washington Irving, after which the restaurant is named. Part of the design even reflects Irving's history. Above the open kitchen hangs a humorous pop art painting depicting Irving's headless horseman character by artist Marcus Pierce. Now that you have exhausted yourself with a history lesson, why not treat yourself to a dessert? We recommend the Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta and the Warm Fudge Brownie. If sweets aren't for you, go for the cheese plate. The restaurant's cheeses are sourced from Beecher's, a local shop that employs a centuries-old craftsmanship in their handmade cheese.
Irvington, located at 201 Park Avenue South, is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late night dining Monday through Wednesday from 7 a.m. – 2 a.m.; Thursday through Friday from 7 a.m. – 3 a.m. Weekend brunch, dinner and late night dining are available on Saturday from 7 a.m. – 3 a.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. – 2 a.m. Private dining space is also available. For reservations or to book a private event, please call 212.677.0425. To learn more about Irvington, please visit www.IrvingtonNYC.com. Follow Irvington on Facebook.com/IrvingtonNYC | Twitter.com/IrvingtonNYC | Instagram: @irvingtonnyc.