The British have arrived and conquered NYC in the form of charming English eatery on East 39th Street. Inside the The William Hotel at 24 East 39 Street in Midtown is The Peacock restaurant. This is the creation of Jason Hicks of Jones Wood Foundry and Yves Jadot of Raines Law Room. The Peacock is a replication of a gentleman's club of the 19th century.
There are three components to the restaurant: a library bar and lounge complete with tall bookcases, club chairs and an open fire where hors d’oeuvres and high tea are served, plus classic cocktails; then two adjoining dining rooms where a seasonal sophisticated menu inspired by classic British cuisine is offered. The menu is British, but with a "playful Bohemian touch." There is also an intimate outdoor terrace and private garden that complements the dining rooms, where guests can linger al fresco when summer actually comes to the Big Apple.
After spending some time in England and being in a few gentleman's clubs, I can say this is a great reproduction. I definitely felt the vibe. From the woodwork paneling to the stuffed chairs to a light bar menu, the feel is all British. The dining areas were complete with an oversized fireplace and beautiful high-carved ceilings.
This is not a lowbrow establishment. So if you are thinking simple English pub you have the wrong place. This is not a two shillings a pint or boiled pork and cabbage kind of place. It is definitely upscale and charming that brings British manor food right to your table. Think more Downton Abbey.
The wait staff was superb! Jackie was my server. She was more than attentive. She knew the menu forward and backwards, (which in this day and age is something of a novelty in a good number of restaurants.) She made recommendations based on her own experience with each of the menu items. Heather Gurfein, the general manager also offered her input as well, which lead me to my soup, appetizer and main meal choices. And I was not sorry about any of those choices.
We can all agree that the Brits are not known for their cuisine. Their food is simple, basic meat and starch heavy. They are not into seasoning their food like the rest of Europe. As tradition will have it, the food is a bit bland. For something brighter, you would find yourself in an Italian, French or Indian restaurant for the savory and spicy fare if you were dining in London or Manchester.
Executive Chef Robert Aikens took the traditional English fare and gave it a bit of spin and kick. Each dish was smartly plated and downright flavorful. The London Particular, which is a soup, made of English and split peas with mint and white cheddar cheese that was just sublime. The rabbit pie was so delicious with a light white sauce that covered the stew beneath the flakey pastry dough that I could have taken home the pot. It was heaven in a cast iron pot very British. I have not had rabbit that tender and good since I was in Southhampton a few years ago.
The dinner menu is loaded with wonderful fare like their Roasted beetroot steak and pickled beets or their Lincolnshire Haslet, which is a terrine of pork belly, shoulder and smoked bacon with a pear shallot chutney and a celery root salad. Of course there is a very high-end fish and chips that showcases their triple cut chips.
Chef Aikens has a clear vision and savory palate in his menu offering. I wish I had the inner fortitude to go another round of different dishes from his terrific menu. That will have to wait for the next time when I go back to this wonderful restaurant.