A modern gastropub inside the Ace Hotel inspired by all things hearty, vintage, and British.
In today’s culinary landscape, it can sometimes seem as if one can’t walk more than half a block without being assaulted by the latest health-conscious buzzword. Oh, you want a gluten-free, non-GMO, antibiotic-free, soy-free, vegan, low-carb, organic meal? No problem. There is a bodega in Bushwick that specializes in that.
But in all seriousness, it can take a lot of financial and metabolic willpower to dedicate oneself to such a lifestyle, and it is in this landscape that April Bloomfield saw an opportunity to inject a little relief. At The Breslin, she unapolagetically returns the gloriously unhealthy pleasures of fat, salt, and richness to food, knowing that if there is one thing a bearded, man-bun-sporting hipster from Flatbush loves more than his artisanal kimchi kale tacos with foraged herbs, it is a restaurant that promises a return to the vintage, a return to the good ‘ole days.
And that is exactly what The Breslin Bar and Dining Room does. English saloon-style fare colors the menu with every possible shade of unhealthy, and with gastropub classics elevated to modern sensibilities, comfort food is suddenly cool again.
The love for the pig here sometimes borders on excessive, but Bloomfield’s knowledge of the animal from snout to tail is almost unparalleled in the field, making every pork-centric dish worth a bite. Though it might not ward off cardiac arrest any time soon, the Suckling Pig Rillette with brussels sprouts, radish, and mustard vinaigrette is like a rich pate, a salty, decadent, exceedingly tender beginning to a meal. A hearty Terrine board can also be shared as a large appetizer for a table to feast upon guinea hen, pork, rabbit, crispy headcheese, and liverwurst.
For a true Bloomfield experience, though, large parties booked over a week in advance may order an entire suckling pig for a peak into what the Middle Ages might have looked like had they occurred in New York today.
At brunch, messy and rustic food like the Chargrilled Lamb Burger with feta and cumin mayo again targets the pleasure sensors of the brain. The burger is gamy and so densely full of iron flavor it might even awaken a more primitive side in each diner, particularly as they defend their thick, thrice-cooked cone of fabulously crispy fries from wandering hands. The only flaw is the oversized bun with a "nice cup size" as my server so eloquently put it, which risked drying up the juicier bites of meat.
Eggs are also fantastic across the board, though they are nowhere near a "light" option on the menu. The Ovenbaked 3-cheese Sandwich with house smoked ham and a fried egg kept me full for about 18 hours, but with the silky yolk melting into the crispy bread with every bite, I have no regrets.
Despite the constant fetishizing of fat that takes place at The Breslin, there is still a sense that the menu has been carefully curated to present a new picture of British-influenced pub food. Indeed, it is this elevated adaptation of classic cooking that has earned the dark, brooding restaurant a Michelin star.
Morning, noon, or late, late at night, The Breslin is ultimately the guilty pleasure restaurant that you know is oh so bad for you, but damn, does it feel oh so good. At a place like this, sometimes it really is worth it to throw willpower to the wind.