Bacon-Wrapped Lamb Chops -- Employees OnlyEmployees Only
Admittedly, it has taken us an awfully long time to make our way to Employees Only, considering it is located in the West Village and not in some far-off land, like Brooklyn. But our reluctance toward venturing into the place stems from one of its signature characteristics: it's "sceney."
As previously stated, we greatly dislike "sceney" restaurants, because we
much prefer early-bird-special, geriatric "scenes" than those where
people try so hard to be fabulous. Employees Only tends to attract this
kind of socially needy crowd because it is modeled after a 1920s
speakeasy, its front window proclaiming the space a psychic's office
rather than the home of absurdly overpriced cocktails.
Now, maybe we're
missing something, but all of these speakeasy throwback establishments
that keep cropping up are decidedly not our thing. ALCOHOL IS LEGAL
NOW, GUYS. Drink up and stop making such a production about it.
|Sceney = A Place Full of People Who Care. We Don't Care|
|Fortune Says We'll Be Tipsy Tonight|
|Enough Complaining Considering We're Not Even Inside Yet|
|We Did Not Receive One of These "Exclusive" Pamphlets|
|Candle in the Wind, Indeed|
"No, no, no, no, no!" Ginger manages to sputter. "We don't like it."
And this, ladies and gentlemen, is reason number one why we will never be "sceney."
we are technically at Employees Only to eat Rocco DiSpirito's Best
Thing I Ever Ate UNDER WRAPS dish, the bacon-wrapped lamb chops, we are
much more consumed by the cocktail menu, which is, in two words,
EXTENSIVE and EXPENSIVE.
Vodka eventually settles on the Vesper ("It
has vodka AND gin -- it's like us in a glass") and Ginger, on the Ginger
Smash (and based on the strength of said cocktail, that moniker is
about to come to life).
Vesper, which is crisp, delicious, and ridiculously strong ("Pour us a
glass of all your alcohol"), is right up Vodka's alley, while the Ginger
Smash is less sweet than Ginger had anticipated.
beverages are $15, we think they could have been a little more
heavy-handed with the pours, but by the end of round one, Vodka is
already proclaiming, "This is my favorite drink ever," so all is not
lost for Employees Only.
order the bacon-wrapped lamb chops with salsa verde, the bone marrow
poppers, the ricotta gnocchi, and the cheese plate. As we wait, a small
loaf of pumpernickel bread appears, with a spread which can only be described
as "ranch dressing." We lap it up heartily (though whether this carb
consumption is due to the actual tastiness of the bread or the fact that
we are currently awash in boozy cocktails is anyone's guess).
lamb chops soon arrive, and after a second of trying to eat them
daintily with a knife and fork, we soon begin gnawing on them, Fred
The chops manage to be crispy on the outside and
extremely tender on the inside, and despite the prevalence of wrapped
bacon, it somehow doesn't add much to the lamb itself.
salse verde is a much more beneficial accompaniment, and while we
certainly enjoy said chops (especially because the meat is not too
fatty, as we have had some epic fights with a certain restaurant
concerning fatty lamb chops), we're not blown away enough to offer them
more than four stars.
bone marrow poppers are... interesting. A small helping of bone marrow
is stuck inside puff pastry poofs, and while we had enjoyed bone marrow
when we tried it previously, primarily because it was salty, in
Employees Only's greasy and not-all-that-flavorful preparation, we're not super into it.
contrast, the cheese plate is the one component on this menu, besides
the Vesper, which is something to write home about. By this point, we
are too three-sheets-to-the-wind from our drinks to remember what a
single item on the plate is, but just know that all three cheeses, along
with the accompanying lavash bread and various nut and oil
accoutrements, are just about the best we have ever tasted.
cheese plate is so good, in fact, that it manages to make our usual
favorite menu item -- pasta -- almost an afterthought. The ricotta
gnocchi with mushrooms are tasty enough (though Ginger seems to think
they're the consistency of tofu, which is never a positive comparison).
They taste almost overwhelmingly like soy sauce, which is a relatively
good thing, because that means they're salty, but overall, they just
don't hold a candle, lit or otherwise, to the cheese plate.
dessert, we settle on the chocolate pudding with hazelnuts, caramel, and
a fudge brownie, mostly because it has the words "pudding, caramel, and
brownie" in it. Unfortunately, at the risk of sounding ridiculous
(though this is never an actual "risk" we're concerned about), the
dessert tastes so overwhelmingly of CHOCOLATE that all of the components
get lost in a big blob of chocolate flavor. At the very least, this
dessert is begging for a dollop of whipped cream on top, and as it
stands, we're not impressed.
|Employees Only, Pre-Onslaught of Sceniness|
|Are They Storing the Booze on the Roof?! Why Is It So Much?|
|Muddled Ginger = Name of Her Memoir|
|Apparently, Cranberries Aren't As Sweet As She Thought They Were|
|Vesper = How to Go Broke in a Glass|
|Bread with a Side of Hidden Valley|
|Where's Barney When You Need Him?|
|It Seems Bacon Does Not, In Fact, Solve Everything|
|We're Sure Employees Only Is Devastated By This News|
|...mostly full of...|
|They're Much More Generous With Their Cheese Than With Their Drinks|
|We Could Do Without That Green Nonsense Getting in the Way of the Bread|
|Looks Like Pita Crisps, Tastes Like Heaven|
|Essentially Beef and Broccoli, Sans the Beef and the Broccoli|
|So Just to Confirm, That's NOT Tofu, Right?|
|You Heard It Here First -- Chocolate Pudding Can Indeed Be Too Chocolatey|
|Bring on Bill Cosby and His Pudding Snacks|
We are also not into the astoundingly LOUD atmosphere which has by now permeated Employees Only's space. To say we are now shouting at each other just to be heard above the din is no exaggeration, and the bar area is packed like a rush hour subway train. After laying down a solid $86 a piece (as a note, we didn't even get an entree -- this "meal" of appetizers and cocktails cost $172), we push (literally push) our way out of the establishment, mumbling all the way about why people would choose to put themselves through this rigmarole on a regular basis. When Vodka attempts to record this sentiment in her notes, she discovers the following day that what she has actually written is as follows:
"Who goes verte aaa a go-to place?"
"Who goes verte aaa a go-to place?"
And more than anything else, this nonsensical sentence proves why it is a good thing that we don't live in the time of illegal alcohol: you send us into a speakeasy, pour us a couple of glasses of moonshine, and we lose all powers of articulation.
Verte aaa, to you, too, Employees Only.
Employees Only's Bacon-Wrapped Lamb Chops: 4 stars