Get this: When I started this blog named Eater, there was another sketchy site out on the left coast with the same name. Who knew that Eater (left coast) would become a massive entity with its sister sites Racked and Curbed, and then come rolling into New York like the Goths sacking Rome. Folks, they sent me a cease and desist letter! I had to come up with a new name.
Since Eaterdotcomsucks got shot down (as did Sexbites, Eat. Drink. B****, and screwyoueaterdotcom), we settled on Eat. Drink. Blog. I feel pretty good about it, though I’d still like to say, just ’cause you’re bigger, that doesn’t mean that you’re better.
Pan-seared scallops with sweet onion and bacon compote at Thyme
Is there anyone more star-crossed than Chef Neil Ferguson? In 2007, it was
Ferguson whom hothead Gordon Ramsay picked from his entire UK empire. He was chosen to head the kitchen at Ramsay’s eponymous New York restaurant at the London Hotel; sadly, critics were underwhelmed, and the whole mess was caught by Bill Buford (who just always seems to be in the wrong place at the right time) writing for the New Yorker.
In that hot mess, Ferguson comes out smelling like a rose – a cool head in a cauldron of crazy. Everyone empathized when Ferguson quit to join forces with developer Dick Friedberg, he of the (who knew?) massive clusterboinks, Allen and Delancey and Monteverde on the Hudson. Oh, you remember Monteverde…Friedberg allegedly disappeared in a cloud of unpaid bills, with workers and vendors all petitioning for pennies on their hard-earned dollars. Ferguson had a year or so at Soho House, a once-hopping private meatpacking club (with a tiny roof pool), and now this Michelin-starred chef is cooking at a modest spot in Yorktown Heights called Thyme.
What? Yorktown Heights?
Yup, Thyme’s a small (42-seat) strip-mall space off Crompound Road, and the menu is pretty interesting—if only because is seems like a mid-market dip for this Michelin-starred chef. We dropped by for lunch (okay, and to check whether Elvis was actually in the house – and he was, in the open kitchen) and we were shocked to find items like a burger, two pizzas, and a kids’ menu with chicken fingers. You’ll find French onion soup, various salads, grilled chicken and roasted salmon, all heavy hitters, but nothing that’ll draw those spooky Michelin raters.
But how is Thyme? Turns out, the food is very nice, and almost perfectly executed. Our favorite dish was a modest take on steak frites. So what? It’s a classic, but done at Thyme with finesse—three roomy slabs of skirt steak, seasoned and cooked perfectly, with a nicely herbal chimichurri sauce. And the fries—big, hand-cut, steaky things, more English chips than shoestrings— were snappably crisp outside and fluffy/steamy/perfect inside. If the devil is in the details, then this is one kick-butt French fry. Sadly, there were a couple of real gaffes, like big, sinewy knots in an otherwise tasty tuna tartare.
Still, we loved roasted vegetable ravioli with luscious, fragrant butter sauce. We snapped up every leathery petal of the salty, roasted tomato that studded this luxurious dish.Juicy scallops are pan-seared to technical perfection, with ringed and brown crusts yielding to jiggly and translucent insides. Add a mild and porky bacon/sweet onion compote all piled over a yummy parsnip puree.
Thyme’s short wine list is thoughtful and hews toward great value. Look for smaller producers and better wines for the price of familiar, bargain labels. We loved that Thyme’s wines are offered in half-glasses for about $4. This makes promiscuous drinking an absolute must.
Desserts made us sad, if only because of their pedestrian array. Thyme won’t be dazzling Ferguson groupies with a roster of crème brulee, molten chocolate cake, apple crisp, brownies, cheesecake, and ice cream and sorbet. The tastiest bite of dessert was found propping up a quenelle of ice cream that joined our molten chocolate cake: it was crumbs from the brownie, heavily salted and absolutely compelling.
Our advice? Get to Thyme now, while Ferguson’s flashes are still to be found – moss doesn’t grow on this rolling stone, and no one knows how long he’ll cool his heels up in Yorktown.
The Edible Garden at the New York Botanical Garden winds up with these fabulous, flesh-pressing events:
In The Conservatory Kitchen According to NYBG’s site, “Covered seating under the tent is on a first-come, first-served basis. For the best seating, arrive to the entrance at Conservatory Plaza an hour prior to each presentation. Seating begins a half-hour before each presentation.”
Noon: Mario Batali promotes his new book, Molto Gusto: Easy Italian Cooking
2pm: Michael Psilakis, grinning Iron Chef, owner of Kefi and cookbook author
4pm: Mark Forgione, chef and co-owner of Mark Forgione
1pm: Todd English, executive chef and restaurateur
4pm: Sara Jenkins, chef and owner, Porchetta
Book Signings at the Cookbook Collective (located in the NYBG Perennial Garden)
1pm: Mario Batali, Molto Gusto
3pm: Michael Psilakis, How to Roast a Lamb: New Greek Classic Cooking
3pm: Nan K. Chase, Eat Your Yard
12pm: Sherri Brooks Vinton, Put’em Up!
3pm: Susie Middleton, Fast, Fresh & Green
5pm: Sara Jenkins, chef and owner, Porchetta
Yorktown’s newcomer Thyme is slinging some great hash, like this ur-beefy take on the bistro classic, steak frites. Yawn, you say? But check it out: instead of the usual wads of flabby, frozen fries, you’ll find these hand-cut timbers. They’re perfectly twice-fried and stacked like Lincoln Logs on your plate—fat, meaty, potatoey, yet still snappably crisp. Now, we might be of Scots/Irish descent (and have potato juice running in our veins), but we’d travel all the way to Yorktown for these crispy, fried gems. Oh, yeah, and the steak is great, too.