King’s Carriage House: A Country Inn for a Night in the Neighborhood

It’s a hard knock life being a foodie in Yorkville. The good German and Hungarian stalwarts have long since been kudzued over by a tobacco row of dank bars and dangerously dirty slice joints. The new waves of cuisine, from nouvelle to molecular gastronomy leave us high and dry. Neither haute Paris nor ethnically savory Sunnyside, Queens, Yorkville is a little bit of everything and not much of anything. Nonetheless, a few brave souls are making meals worth a walk if not a cab ride.

Among the new breed, Spigolo, Uva and Café D’Alsace are the obvious well-publicized standouts. Several rungs lower, York Grill remains an adequate standby, unwilling to get better and unlikely to get worse. King’s Carriage House, according to my friends’ reports, falls somewhere in between, but closer to the former group than the latter. This past Friday I gave it a try.

After a single visit, I’d say this lovely little converted brownstone is much more about feel than food, but the feel is wonderfully warm and clubby and perhaps the perfect answer to the modest expectations of a Friday night’s repast. A favorite of many Carl Schurz Park volunteer gardeners and other Connecticut second home owners, its décor is delightfully country inn tweedy, from the hunt scene prints to the candelabra. It’s also surprisingly cosmopolitan.

During a leisurely three hour dinner I was treated to discourses on changing admissions policies at Choate, Taft and Princeton from one table of Rep tied brownstoners, Spanish judicial corruption from madrileño renters and something unintelligible with a German accent from unidentifiable tourists. Only the slouching Tigers were overbearingly loud, and they did provide some modicum of entertainment. Fortunately, so did the food.

Lamb was rare, beautifully seasoned and set off by surprisingly fresh braised greens. Venison sausage and sweet potato hash would make for excellent haute breakfast fare, but also tasted great at dinner time. Only Stilton and fruit with a missing glass of port failed to live up to its promise. The cheese was bland and the presentation a bit dated without being dated enough—no modern funky flavor, no old-school maggot spoon. A goat cheese terrine was antiquated but comfortingly filling and fairly tasty, perfectly suited to the place and the pace. Grilled salmon exceeded wedding banquet standards but not by much. Fortunately, a blackberry crumble redeemed the evening, and left me fortified for the short post-prandial stroll home.

This wasn’t food or drink to contemplate, comment, wax or whine about. It didn’t lift my eyes upward to the heavens with exalted gastro-joy nor the ceiling in exasperation. Rather, it made me smile and look at and talk to my spouse. A good time, an easy reservation, a reasonable check, and baby and babysitter asleep by eleven. Number four on the Yorkville standout list, check.

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One Response to “King’s Carriage House: A Country Inn for a Night in the Neighborhood”

  1. Food Fan Says:

    Wine was a bit warm and swiftly poured when I went, but you’re right about the ambience.

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