We transferred to the L train this past weekend- to meet friends for dinner in (sigh) Williamsburg. I'll admit that I wrinkled my judge-y nose as I took in three early twenty-somethings passing a Coors Light exchanging what they hoped to be ironic comments, stumbling in unison with the jerks of the train.
We hopped off at Bedford and set-up our iPhone GPS command center, leading us to Custom American Wine Bar until our agreed upon 6:30pm meeting time. Notable, as the list is exclusive to The States and has excellent Washington and Oregon wineries featured (+ free pop corn!).
Our company put our name on the list at St. Anselm, which does not take reservations, but does conveniently offer an iPhone app to track your progress in obtaining a table. Once you're on on the waiting list, most patrons set-up camp in the adjacent bar, which is unsurprisingly (genius!) owned by the same gentleman behind St. Anselm. The smell is quite peculiar, a sort of licorice and musk. It was very nearly offensive, but after we marinated in it for 2.5 hours and found ourselves being summoned to our table at the restaurant- ducks began to form in a row. As you step into St. Anselm, the thick warm scent of steak takes you over. It's literally the perfect pairing. I can't explain it any other way and I was certain the licorice-musk bar is absolutely integral to the process.
The interior is rough and a bit rustic- Americana- with weathered wood, vintage saws and a promise of hormone and antibiotic-free meat. We were greeted by a husky-country looking man, of whom confirmed he was in fact from the Midwest: Kansas.
We immediately opened with bottles of red, wine braised octopus and grilled artichoke hearts with aioli. Both tender, flavorful and at simply prepared.
For our second course, we shared a few plates of greens- ice berg and blue salad with hot bacon dressing and the grilled Halmoumi cheese with pea greens and long beans. Rich, sultry and satisfying- these could be a meal in themselves.
Our mains came in a hurry: butcher steak with garlic butter, lamb saddle with mint gremolata, salmon steak with garlic butter and the bourbon brined center cut pork chop. To accompany, we selected a few orders of the pan fried mashed potatoes with truffled oil, spinach gratin and scallions. We approached the spread family-style to fully experience the feast. The various proteins tasted as though the animals are been massaged, loved and well fed. There is really is no substitute for this quality.