A recent opening in the most charming part of the West Village, Braeburn Restaurant is certainly “almost bucolic,” “quiet” and “neighborhood-y” (as described by New York Magazine), but how I wish it were less…ordinary than it actually is. The setting is almost ideal: dim but not dark, quiet and peaceful yet excrutiatingly warm (why do restaurants feel the need to suffocate their guests?), with lovely glossy wood tables and images of rural life on the walls. With all the tranquility and refreshing quiet of Braeburn, the service and the food were disappointing.
To begin with, after asking the hostess to turn down the temperature in the increasingly sauna-like room, I believe she actually cranked up the heat. Part of me just hopes that the new hostess in the new restaurant didn’t know which way to turn the thermostat. Following, our silent and almost begrudging waiter rushed us through a delightful bottle of Viogner, most likely in hopes to make another sale, before our entrees were on the table. I then went wine-less through my lamb.
Now to the most important part: the food. Overall rating? Very Good. Not excellent, but solid, filling, and flavorful. I personally ordered the Top Sirloin of Lamb with crushed peas, mint, and garlic sausage. This American twist on a British classic was…good. The lamb was cooked well and the all the trapping didn’t disappoint. However, I emphasize, it by no means blew my mind. Two of the other three people in my party decided on the ‘Comfort Menu,’ a charming tasting menu offering three courses of dressed-up comfort food for a very reasonable $30. From what I understand, the chicken-fried steak is absolutely heavenly (despite its status as guaranteed artery blocker) and the ricotta pasta is dough-y and succulent.
For a restaurant specializing in comfort food, the desserts were, for lack of a better word, boring. Basic ice cream sundaes, chocolate pudding and key lime pie tasted good but lacked inspiration.
All in all, Braeburn is good, very good even, and its charming location on a tree-lined street in the West Village only adds to its rural mystique in the Big City. A solid neighborhood staple with average aspirations, Braeburn pleased my visiting mother from the suburbs, my banker boyfriend and my picky college friend with a healthy appreciation for gourmet cuisine. As for me, I recommend Braeburn for those longing for a little taste of home in Manhattan or just a quick trip to the ‘countryside’ without venturing too far…