Tag Archives: new restaurant

A Restaurant Is Born: The Paperwork is In!

12 Dec

It has been an unbelievably long road to open The Keys. (For a full recap of the story so far, you can start from the first post of “A Restaurant is Born”) The original open date was aimed for Summer 2012, and here we are at the end of the year, without a place to enjoy Chef Bill’s awesome food.

The owners were really the hold up here.  Paperwork just would not move along since there were so many cooks in the kitchen (pun intended) on the owner’s side.  They went through 3 different lawyers, and each new lawyer wanted his own new deal.  Once word came that they could move forward, it still took a full 5 weeks to get the contract together.  They had to figure out the exact terms to keep the owners on as partners (at 25%) so they still were invested in the restaurant to everyone’s satisfaction. Finally, the contract was signed this past week! It required 6 owners and partners to sign, from all over the world.

The design firm that was going to invest is no longer going to be used, because 10% is a big chunk to give away.  There is a new architect involved now named Shay who works for Perkins Eastman. He is busy getting measurements and putting the plans together so they can start construction the moment the lease is signed.  They hope this will be just a week or two away so they can be in there by mid-December. This will allow the Concession (you can read more about what a Concession from this previous post) to extend to March, giving the restaurant time to get on its feet.

There is a $150K budget for the full build out and equipment. The brick oven is a key piece of the restaurant, but repairing it will cost about $8K, so it has got to be worth it! Bill is busy figuring out some awesome dishes that can come out of it, including suckling pig, plank seafood, and, of course, the homemade bread.  (Bill is posting about some ideas on The Keys’ Facebook page. Go on over and become a fan!) Bill is also excited about putting in smokers, so he can make his own bacon and the bar can make smoked ice for cocktails.   The outside patio will get a new fortified roof so he can have an herb and chili garden on top.  He also plans to put a macro grower in the kitchen so he can grow some super sized greens.  The in-season menu is back in play.  Shay is already taking measurements and making sketches and I’ll be posting more about this in the next few weeks when things start getting really exciting and we see how the physical restaurant changes.

Bill is ambitious and hopes to have a Friends & Family opening by the last week of January.  He will start with dinner, then add lunch a month later, and brunch when the weather warms up.  There will be Jazz music downstairs, which will start up right at opening, and Bill plans to have some house instruments so that Jazz musicians will look at The Keys as a place to just stop by and jam from 11-4am.  There will also be a DJ on the weekends with molecular bottle service downstairs.  This is not going to be a club scene, however, and more for people who will be excited that the cocktails include homemade bitters.

I am excited to say that it is finally time to announce where the restaurant will be!  The Keys will be bringing great food and music to Mulberry Street, between Prince and Spring Streets, in the space currently occupied by the Australian restaurant, 8 Mile Creek.

Stay tuned in the next few weeks as the construction starts and the menu takes form!

Albert Hall Tavern- A new, fantastic arrival

7 Jan

There are VERY few places that I dine at and then run right home to blog about.  In fact, this may very well be the first time (I left this place 15 minutes ago).  Albert Hall Tavern is located at 508 9th Ave (between 38th and 39th Streets).  Their site (www.alberthalltavern.com) isn’t yet live (which is hardly surprisingly, since they have been open less than ONE WEEK).  Their phone number is 646-490-4803, however, if you want to get in touch.

I live in a neighborhood that isn’t well known for go-to dining establishments.  Sure, there are delicious places in Times Square, and there are a number of Hell’s Kitchen restaurants that are go-to, but the area on 9th Avenue near Port Authority isn’t exactly known as a mecca for cuisine.

So when Mike and I noticed that a new tavern was opening up in a space that was recently a short lived velvet rope night club (non-sensical for this area), we checked out the menu.  It looked great.  Some really delicious sounding dishes (bone marrow, short rib ravioli, a Thursday special just called “pig”) and a nice looking inside (that we could see when we peered through the window) made us both say to each other, “we need to try this place.” (They opened on New Year’s Eve.)

So tonight, when my coworkers wanted to go out for happy hour, I suggested we try the new place. When we walked in, it seemed a little fancy, but with a great draft beer selection and some good rock music (the kind you just love to sing along to) playing. 

We quickly noticed that they had an interesting selection of beers, most of which we couldn’t pronounce, but sounded promising.  Our bartender (Brian, I think) mentioned that he appreciated our selections and quickly poured us our taps.  We all tried our beers and made various “wow” type sound.  We all mentioned how much we were each enjoying our various selections, however, one stood out;  Adam chose a German wheat beer, Weihenstephan.  Turns out, it’s the oldest brewery in the world (nearly 1,000 years old!) We all wound up ending with this beer and enjoying it thoroughly.

We also asked for the bone marrow appetizer, which included beets and braised beef.  (SOLD!)  It came and we all managed to give the bones extra scrapes, and commented on how delicious the braised beef was.  It was heavenly.   From start to finish.


We struck up a conversation with our bartender about visiting the south (where he’s from) and I think we were all taken aback by how “at home” we immediately felt in this place.

One of the managers came up to us soon after and brought us artichoke dip, compliments of the chef.

Archie dip

We were immediately impressed by the (obviously) homemade potato chips on top.  While we all wanted to dip them, they were too fragile, so they acted as a perfect crunchy topping as we ate this with our forks. 

I was thoroughly impressed.  As someone that LOVES artichokes and has eaten artichoke dip in many restaurants, I was really intrigued at how fresh the artichokes were, how unique this dip was, and how it didn’t have any of that mealy texture that is so popular in artichoke dip.  I’m not sure there was spinach in this.  It just tasted like fresh artichokes and cheese.

FAN. tastic.

We wound up chatting with the manager and the owner, and found out the future plans include making the back into a “game room” where they plan to serve whole suckling pigs to private parties.  They plan on making brunch a big deal in the next few weeks and plan on being open for lunch soon. 

I was so impressed by this place.  Fantastic beer selection, the food we tried was unique and delicious, and the staff was so hospitable and friendly.  It’s the kind of place I can see finally becoming my neighborhood go-to. 

They have shrimp by the pound where you can get a whole meal for about $10.  And we were advised to try their oysters.

When Mike got home from work, I actually debated turning right around and going back for dinner.

I’m sure I will be back soon.

Go. Now. Before the secret is out.