Monday, June 3, 2019

White Horse "Elevated"

When I first broke the news that the White Horse Tavern would be taken over by Eytan Sugarman, restaurateur to hedgefunders, I predicted that "we'll see a high-end re-do, like the ones that destroyed and/or exclusified Bill's Gay 90s, Minetta Tavern, Rocco's, Fedora, and so many other beloved--and once democratic--classic spots."

Sugarman went before the Community Board 2 State Liquor Authority Committee and, addressing New Yorkers' concerns, promised not to change the spirit of the historic bar. “I have every intention of keeping this amazing institution the way it is,” he said. “I have no intention of making any dramatic changes.” But he also said he would raise prices and make "a little bit of a better burger."

Now the Post reveals what the new White Horse will be when it reopens this week after a renovation. “We are keeping prices accessible," Sugarman told the paper, "but the dishes will be elevated... We are going to turn it into a first-class gastro pub."

New York Post

That sounds like an oxymoron. Somehow "accessible" means grilled lobster and fries “with ramp butter and aioli” for $32, and Arctic char “with whipped potatoes & bone marrow” for $29. There will also be that "better burger" for $16, a pretty standard price for much of Manhattan, and mugs of beer will remain at $8. Other prices will rise. Croman is the new landlord, after all. The chef is Ed Szymanski "who made his name at Beatrice Inn."

The Beatrice was one of the first places that fell victim to the fauxstalgia trend--the one that, according to the Times, has turned the Village into "a theme park of the past, as these restored standards offer a vision of a lost bohemian New York— albeit with a well-heeled clientele and prices to match." When the Beatrice was first taken over by Paul Sevigny, he said there would be a mix of old and new, high and low -- Monday nights would be for the old regulars, featuring red-sauce specials and Scrabble, while Saturday nights would go upscale. "The whole idea behind the bar-restaurant," he told Grub Street in 2006, "is bringing things back to NYC, like American and New York things." A mix of high and low doesn't sound like the worst thing, but the plan didn't stick and the Beatrice was, in a word coined by David Kamp, Vongerichtified.

The Beatrice changed hands over the years, ever elevating. Szymanski came later. The Post says he's bringing history to the historic White Horse, "researching pub fare from the 1920s and 1930s for inspiration." There will be a Waldorf salad.

As for the interior, "Sugarman says he is keeping the tavern’s interior mostly the same despite plans to bring contemporary artist Roy Nachum, known for creating the cover art for Rihanna’s 'Anti' album, into the mix this fall."

Let's hope this is not a slippery slope, ever elevating over time.


Anonymous said...

Fauxstalgia, absolutely. Did VNY coin the term "fauxstalgia?" I think it could be applied to revolting developments in other cities.

Tal Hartsfeld said...

The art of "Turning Icons Into Caricatures"

JQ LLC said...

Artist for Rhianna album. Sounds classy already.

The spin on this from the management sounds like Croman is being very careful.