|Beautiful people and good drinks are the highlights of Ken & Cook|
The menu is meticulously, hilariously, bizarrely fixated on threes: there are three courses and each dish is described in three words, ingredients, or descriptions. I say “bizarrely” because, while most of the time the three words describe ingredients – such as mussels (saffron, leeks, thyme) and beets (avocado, radish, cress) – other times the dish runs out of ingredients and, unwilling to break the pattern, the menu substitutes different kinds of adjectives instead. Thus a NY strip (aged, rosemary, frites) or a cured Italian meat (leg, 1 year, Emilia Romano). With a côte de boeuf (28 oz., dry aged, for 2) they simply gave up.
|Great drinks - the reason to go to Ken & Cook|
|Squid (yogurt, mint, chili) - the best dish at Ken & Cook|
|Kwak beer in its carrying case|
According to Gjoni, the glass and its wooden holder were created by a 19th century Belgian inn-keeper who catered to coachmen who didn't want to spill their drinks while galloping away. The beer itself is an above-average Belgian and I guess at $10, worth the experience.
The best dish on the menu is the squid appetizer, one of two "signature dishes" according to Gjoni. The nicely grilled squid are topped with greens and crispy shallots with small potatoes, a yogurt sauce with drizzled olive oil, and some chilies. The combination of cool yogurt and charred and spicy squid was great - though I felt the chilies were a little too mild. No need for the greens, but I'll forgive them here.
For the second course, pappardelle (veal, radicchio, tomato) missed the mark. The basic tomato sauce felt like something was missing and the wan veal ragu didn't do much for me. A good crunchy breadcrumb topping and decent already-applied cheese partially redeemed the dish.
Blue cheese and almonds (unnecessary), tomatoes (vinegared), inedibly spicy asparagus (strange, confusing, bizarre) were items that should be cut, quickly. With so much going on on the plate it was easy to lose sight of the fact that flank steak with homemade pesto by itself is great. They should stick to that.
A mac & cheese side was decadent and heavy but, as with most mac & cheese, awesome. The cast iron presentation was a nice touch and kept it warm.
Overall, Ken & Cook is a fun, trendy bar with a few good dishes. If you appreciate the over the top nature of the place you'll have a good time - or at least enjoy the beautiful people watching.
Ken & Cook
19 Kenmare Street
New York, NY 10012
Recommended dishes: Squid ($15), Chicken ($19), Mac & Cheese ($8), Kwak beer ($10), Cocktails ($12-15)
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