The Cavalier, the hotly anticipated British-inspired restaurant from the team behind Park Tavern and Marlowe, has been open for three weeks now and the Internets are buzzing with early opinions about the new spot. The amalgam of fox-hunting lodge and London bistro is arguably the biggest opening of the year thus far, which means that expectations are sky high. But forget the hype: what did regular folks think of chef Jennifer Puccio and proprietor Anna Weinberg's newest project? Did the Cavalier dazzle early diners, or leave them cold as a leftover meat pie? We've got The Early Word.
The scene: "The vibe is upscale and it's a bit of a scene," notes Yelper Ken G., "so dress appropriately." The vibe is more in tune with a boisterous after work spot than an intimate rendezvous. "It was very loud and hard to hear each other," said Yelper Lyn M., and Dena A. concurs: "It is not a romantic, quiet date place." "They play British 80s alternative," notes Foursquare user Chad W. "What else can you ask for?"
The space: Designer Ken Fulk infused the space with a distinctive style, and the Bombay Sapphire blue walls, British embellishments and taxidermy galore don't hold anything back. Yelper Carlos A. calls the space "out of the pages of a Ralph Lauren Home catalog," and the taxidermy struck some diners as a bit macabre. "As an animal lover, a minor gripe I had was the taxidermy adorning the walls and shelves," said Yelper Cherylynn N. "Poor bambi." "Not a fan of the animal heads hung on the wall," agreed Lore C.
The food: Chef Puccio's spin on British comfort food had most diners drooling. "Had the best Steak and Fries in the longest time," tweeted Arnold Eric Wong. "You Must MUST must order the mushroom pie. Holy crap.," swooned Yelper Shanee B., who called the grilled ham and cheese strips with Hollandaise "like crack" but found the oyster on top of her meat pie "confusing." Carlos A. called the bland loin of Berkshire pork "the lone dud" in an otherwise stellar meal, and Cherylynn found the entrees disappointing when compared to Park Tavern and Marlowe's offerings.
The eggs: When it came down to eggs, though, The Cavalier shines: "Hold on for the flavor ride" when ordering the scotch egg, says Yelper Justin S. "I'll be back for this one." Foursquare user Megan declares that "the hen egg hollandaise will make your (British) mama cry," and the quail egg mayo gets a big thumbs up, too. "It was a unanimous favorite," announced Yelper Leslie A.
The drinks: Although disgruntled Yelper Too M. calls the cocktails "so and so" [sic], others disagreed. The spicy Rum Punch was "a cool way to start the meal," according to Ken G., and Yelpmeister Ruggy J. notes the "delectable" Barrister cocktail. "Get the White Lady," advises Cherylynn N.
The service: As with many young restaurants, service is a mixed bag for the Cavalier. On the bright side, Cherylynn called the front of house staff "awesome and polished," and both Justin S. and Leslie A. called it "excellent." Not so pleased was Yelper Bruce C., who noticed that his server was "strangely pseudo friendly" and turned from smiles to perfunctory service on a dime. Katherine L. called her waitress "the worst I've ever had," but Cat R. called hers "super attentive."
The price: Ruggy J. notes the "NYC prices" and Cee D. decries the "overpriced" $13 martini. But Justin S. thought his meal was "a great price" and Rob C. notes the "reasonable pricetag." Ordering strategies could spell the difference on the value/price question.
This edition of The Early Word may be a mixed bag, but here's the bottom line from Yelper and native Brit Jo A.: "Go now before it's even more overrun with salivating punters."
·Eater Inside: The Cavalier, An Aristocratic British Clubhouse [~ ESF ~]
·All Early Words [~ ESF ~]