I find it’s always tough to find a good place for dinner in New York. Actually, the problem is that it’s not tough to find a place – if you’re willing to drop a gajilion dollars. And sometimes you’re in that mood. But what about the times you’re not, when you just want good food, not too fussy of an atmosphere? Then it’s more of a crap shoot.
I stumbled onto Bell Book & Candle while surfing Time Out New York, NY Times Dining, Open Table and who knows what else. I liked the concept of the hydroponic rooftop garden taking “locally grown produce” to a whole new level. And I wanted to try something different – this West Village place sounded like quite the find. In other words, it was a crap shoot.
We walked in late on Sunday night (after Green Day), and stepped down into a comfortable bar with old hardwood floors that looked like they had been bar floors for oh, 100 or so years. Probably because they were, in fact, 100 year old bar floors.
The place was friendly and cozy. It was quiet and relaxed, but hip. A cool neighborhood place, but better. It was a good mix of people, looked like a few of the other tables were celebrating Valentine’s Day, there was a small group of friends, and a birthday party in the back.
I started with a salad from the “living leaves” section. Odd wording to be sure, but terrific food. Strange to rave about my salad, but it was delicious. Mild, yet tangy blue cheese and a wonderful mild balsamic vinegar dressing. Although it was technically a pear salad, the pears were the least interesting part.
Next, I had the Amish roasted chicken. I know, it was late and I wasn’t that hungry. At least not until started to look at the menu. G then informed me that the roasted chicken got very good reviews. That settles it, then, doesn’t it?
The chicken was amazing. I can’t figure out what they put on the skin to make it so brown and crispy yet vaguely flavorful. The best part may have been the Yukon gold mashed potatoes – to die for.
We were the last ones to leave, well, except for the neighborhood gang at the bar. Sure enough, we finished with dessert wines and a chocolate brownie. Hey, it’s not every day you dine out in NYC – or is it?
I had thought bell, book and candle was the formula for exorcism. Alas, it is the rite for excommunication. In either case, a good neighborhood find – good food, very nice service, good drinks and wine selection.