Soho is known for its shops but not necessarily for its restaurants. You usually have to walk to Nolita or the West Village for the good stuff. Which was why it was exciting to hear that a bistro with European sensibilities called King was opening in the area. The credentials of the chefs and manager, all of whom spent their time at some of London’s best restaurants like The River Cafe and Clove Club, were also impressive. You knew they had a hit on their hands.
The space is small, intimate and pretty, and it has just the right level of energy where you can have fun catching up with your friends without having to scream at them. King’s cocktail menu is probably one of the most unique that I’ve come across. I felt like someone just strung together the prettiest sounding words to come up with it, things like byrrh, rye, pastis and voignier, creme de cassis and cocchi americano, which all seemed lovely but I had no idea at all what these drinks would taste like. The server steered us to the crowd favorites, the Breton Brut and the Cochonnet, and we were happy with the outcome.
The food menu similarly reads very stylish but oftentimes the outcome is more interesting than I would have liked. The polenta with goat cheese, for instance, sounded like a dream, but in actuality it was a little too funky. I also wanted to like the salt cod mousse appetizer but it was all a bit bland, with only a hint of the cod flavor coming through. The menu changes daily, so it allows for the kitchen to experiment and be creative. This is great, but just be aware that sometimes things are a little out there or not totally finessed.
The monk fish was an excellent entree, probably because it didn’t stray too far from the British tradition of roasting meaty white fish and potatoes. The onglet, a more beautiful way of saying hanger steak, something I’ll use from now on, was cooked well, but again something was off about the seasonings. Normally I am more than happy to scarf down leftover pieces of steak, but I noticed that most people finished only half of their portion, and I did not feel compelled to help them finish the rest. Like I said earlier, dinner at King can be a hit or miss, but it is all very elegant and pretty, and at the very least there is substance to the techniques and flavors, as there is a very solid team in the kitchen.
18 King St (between 6th Ave and Varick St)
New York, NY 10014