Nestled on the cozy corner of 32nd and 2nd, the newest culinary addition to Murray Hill and Kips Bay aims to bring a downtown feel to midtown. Brought to you by the owners of E&E Grill House in Hell’s Kitchen, this neighborhood gem offers a variety of items on their dinner menu, including a burger (which we highly recommend), roast chicken, fish and chips, and arctic char. As with all new restaurants, this one has some kinks to work out, but the ambiance is soothing, the service is friendly, and the location is perfect for locals.
The menu is a bit confusing; in its efforts to engage a varied audience, it falls short of creating a sense of continuity, leaving you a bit confused at why the ratatouille is served with pita bread, or why chickpeas are a featured ingredient on a menu that appears to be predominantly French. Establishing an identity is an important part of a fledgling restaurant’s first steps, and we thought the message was a little mixed.
Once you get past its dissonance, however, your palette is rewarded. To begin, we had the smoked salmon mousse with chives and capers, a fantastic way to start any meal, in our opinion. Whipped so thoroughly that you thought you were eating air, this flavorful pate was complimented by the olive oil sea salt crostini that came with it.
Next up was the ratatouille, which was a bit bland until we mixed in the dollop of ricotta, completely augmenting the flavors of this French classic.
The arctic char entrée was perfectly cooked, not overdone or dried out as is wont to happen with a piece of fish with char’s consistency, and the chilled tomato and red onion accoutrements gave it a refreshing feel. Our favorite was the burger. Again, this dish was cooked to absolute perfection, and the smoked bacon positively accented the juiciness of the meat. A generous portion of shoestring French fries never hurts, either.
One of the other things that impressed us about Hill and Bay was how off the beaten path the wine list was. Grape varietals that you don’t see very often on a by the glass list, such as Assyrtiko, Gamay and Carmenere, have prominent roles on this chic and borderline geeky wine list.
We can definitely see Hill and Bay making a permanent home on the corner of its two namesake neighborhoods. If you’re in search of a place to break your normal dinner routine, this would be a great place to start.