restaurants
Barley & Grain
421 Amsterdam Avenue
646 360 3231

In a city filled with whiskey joints, the best thing about the new restaurant from the team behind The Tangled Vine is that you don't need to be a whiskey person to love it. Sure there is an extensive list of 100 whiskies from the U.S., Scotland and Ireland (40 single malt scotches; 60 ryes, bourbons and American whiskies) but there are also wines and 12 rotating American craft beers on tap. And while there are beer and whiskey influences in the menu from Executive Chef Eric Acklowitz, such as whiskey bbq sauce on hanger steak, and bourbon and stout glazes on meats, what is actually best about Barley & Grain are the unexpected items. A fantastic jicama quinoa mango salad crunches with snow peas, Marcona almonds and is dressed in lemon, mint and EVOO. A tuna crudo and barley salad, comes with a lemon crme fraiche and fresh herbs. A roasted eggplant feta with olives, tahini, cherry tomatoes, red onions and pistachios smacks of the Mediterranean. Of course there are also the classics that one thinks of for brown spirit drinking. A mac n cheese of gruyere, white cheddar and blue cheese with bacon and caramelised shallots or the cured pork belly savoury French toast with maple butter emulsion and quail egg, both hit the spot. As does of course the house-cured lamb pastrami sliders or the garlic beef short rib. They all go well with the whiskey list which extends beyond the usuals (Blanton's, Basil Hayden's, Widow Jane, Macallan, Bulleit, Oban, Ardbeg), to less-well circulated options such as FEW, Whipper Snapper, Caol Ila, Tatoosh, Japanese options such as Hibiki or Nikka. But what works here are the multiple notes. On a given night, locals walk in for a glass of wine, or guys catch up over a beer; it doesn't have to be all about what came from what distillery.

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