Chef: Scott Bryan
Neighborhood: East Village
Price: $50-80 a person depending on drinks; $35 prix fixe available as well as a $65 5-course tasting menu or $80 7-course; no corkage fees Mondays
Address: 60 Third Avenue, NY, NY 10003
Hours: Sun-Thurs 5:30pm-10pm; Frid-Sun 5:30pm-11pm
One of my friends started raving about Apiary after reading Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential where Bourdain dedicated an entire chapter to Scott Bryan. The former described the chef as having “made all the right decisions” and praises him for running an immaculate well-organized kitchen at Apiary. Bryan first got his start in the New York dining world at the famed Veritas in Flatiron. He has also previously worked at Le Bernardin, Bouley, and Lespinasse, so you can definitely sense the influence of haute French cuisine in his food.
At Apiary, Bryan follows the mantra of seasonality and changes his menu according to what is local and currently in season. He focuses on what he calls “contemporary, refined food. Bouley style of cuisine, which is French-influenced. Strong, clean flavors with a lot of acidity. Ballsy food, man” (from Metromix). And neither the chef nor the cuisine really have anything to do with honey bees; the name was inherited when Scott Bryan took over the reigns.
The interior of the restaurant does faintly pay homage to the name. There are honey-comb-esque designs on the walls. And little bees decorate the napkins and coasters. But most of the decor is very clean, simple and modern. The dark wood adds an air of formality, while the numerous chandeliers brighten up the space. The space can easily lend itself to a business dinner, a date, or a friend outing.
As for the food, it is just excellent. Not a single dish was mediocre, and the standout for me was definitely the pappardelle with braised rabbit and porcinis. We shared that pasta, and I wanted to lick my plate clean (but I controlled myself). What also impressed me is that the chef is not stingy with the expensive ingredients like porcinis, chanterelles, etc. Typically you get half a bite and pay with your left kidney. Although the restaurant isn’t cheap by East Village standards, it really does offer great value considering what quality of food you get. Bryan also offers tasting menus, where he will literally fly by the seat of his pants and create a dinner off the top of his head. And unlike many restaurants’, Apiary’s tasting menus are both below $100. As for the wine list, it is pretty expansive as well with a decent selection of under $100 bottles and definitely a very large selection of more expensive ones.
Hamachi Crudo – avocado, hearts of palm, jalapeno
Very generous (surprisingly so) portion of hamachi; jalapeño accompaniment is typical for hamachi and I love how the avocado and hearts of palm softened the spice
Braised Rabbit Pappardelle – porcinis, aromatic vegetables, black truffle oil, parmesan
I still dream about this bunny surrounded by porcini mushrooms and pappardelle and garnished with parmesan. It was just so savory and melt-in-your-mouth delicious
Long Island Duck Breast – melted savoy cabbage, glazed Tokyo turnips, green peppercorn-armagnac jus
So juicy and delicious
Creekstone New York Strip Steak – roasted shallots, creamed spinach, red wine jus
My steak-loving friend was so enamored with this strip steak that he almost apologized to his girlfriend for cheating on her with it (true story). It was everything you want steak to be – juicy, meaty, slightly charred on the outside
Pan Roasted Fluke – black truffled celery root purée, chanterelles, spiced red wine sauce
I devoured my fluke in about a minute. The pan roasting is so simple, but the black truffle notes and chanterelles added nuances of those two very rich flavors without overpowering the fish
Atlantic Merluza – asparagus, grape tomatoes, caper chive butter
Long Island Duck Breast – parsnip purée, farro, glazed Tokyo turnips, green peppercorn armagnac-jus
Creekstone New York Steak – roasted shallots, creamed spinach, red wine jus
Squid Ink Linguine – toasted garlic, squid, yellow grape tomatoes, white wine, pepperoncini
Orzo “Mac” and Cheese