New York Openings: Preserve24 and Parker & Quinn

While food etymologists were losing it last week over the cronut, a subtler move was taking full effect: pickles no longer means pickles, as in pickled cucumbers. Order the house-made pickles at a New York restaurant, and you’ll get ramps (Betony), or cauliflower and okra (Battery Harris), or stringy white mushrooms (Lavender Lake). At the newly opened Preserve24 on East Houston, you’ll get carrots, red onions, ramps, and jalepeños (be careful with those). Cucumbers, meanwhile, have become the red velvet cupcake of the pickle world.

Aside from the pickles nouveau, most everything else at Preserve24 takes inspiration from 19th-century styling. The subterranean dining room’s reached via an artfully distressed spiral staircase. Liquor bottles are nestled in a bar made from hollowed-out old pianos. Antique doors and stiff wooden booths fill the rest of the upscale Mark Twain-Disney-esque space. The food is rustic. Oysters come raw, fire-roasted with garlic butter, or fried and settled into bacon sliders. Truffle fries are topped with generous shavings of Ouray cheese. Hearty entrées like the fennel-crusted veal chop or the organic roasted chicken pair perfectly with roast vegetables, which come hot in cast-iron pots. It’s all comfort food, down to the ice cream sandwiches for dessert.

Old-timey themes are also at play at Parker & Quinn (pictured), a 1920s-styled American bistro in the otherwise mod Refinery Hotel. Jockey-sized busboys in plaid newsboy hats shuffle around a sprawling honeycomb-floored dining space, which sees a wraparound bar as its centerpiece. Rumors of a roaming cocktail cart have been squashed, but they will let you keep bottles of liquor in special VIP lockers.

On the kitchen end, chef Jeffrey Forrest sticks to what American fare’s all about—fine ingredients, buttered or fried. The conch fritters, with their fluffy-chewy insides, could make a meal on their own. Fried oysters don’t skimp on the batter; soft-shell crabs don’t skimp on the browned butter and capers. A sprawling menu is divvied up by food source (baby back ribs are “from the pen,” Natchitoches crawdads are “from the water,” and bacon grits are “from the mill.”) “Shared plates” is the preferred angle, to make maximum use of the giant bar and the elevated pub booths. Speaking of bar fare, be sure to order the house-made pickles. They’re made from cucumbers.

[Related: BlackBook New York Guide; Listings for Betony, Battery Harris, Lavender Lake, Preserve 24, Parker & Quinn, Refinery Hotel; More by James Ramsay

Betony & The Fourth Open, Cardamom Ganache & Herbal Beers Hit NYC

Betony, the new haute-earthy tenant in Brasserie Pushkin’s former space, didn’t entirely do away with the ornate. The chandelier is still there, as are the plush velvet banquettes. The back dining room’s concrete ceiling is etched with abstract Latin geometry, as if one of the construction workers had a Good Will Hunting moment. (Eamon Rockey, the general manager, said it came at the owner’s discretion—“he likes very opulent things.”)

The decorative posturing, which at least is tempered by some potted foliage, is more than backed up by Eleven Madison Park vet Bryce Shuman’s creations from start to finish. Pure pleasers, like the light and vinegary fried pickled ramps, or the cured pink snapper on a basil pesto, abet more challenging dishes. Flavors come in appropriated forms: cardamom is housed in a milky foam over dark chocolate ganache, tomato juice is turned to ice and “snowed” over gooseberry compote, and an asparagus pappardelle tastes of the plant with an intensity that goes far beyond the amount of spears actually in there.

Rockey, also of Eleven Madison Park, matches Shuman’s care behind the bar. An orange rind treated for two weeks with oleo-saccharum sugar tops the ice on an orange julep (“a sipper.”) An extensive beer list pulls in some beyond-rare gypsy beers, like Stillwater’s white sage Saison “Cellar Door”: an ornate herbal brew with a name like velvet.

Downtown also gains an elaborate new hang with the arrival of The Fourth, an American brasserie at the new Hyatt Union Square fit for townies and tourists alike. In keeping with the hotel theme, a helix of dangling bunk bed frames by the artist Brinton Jaecks fills a 25-foot tall dining room. Downstairs, a South American restaurant called Botequim with an open kitchen is set to open later this year. The co-ed restroom, which made for some fun exchanges, shares a door with the Hyatt’s gym. Don’t steal the towels. 

Del Posto vet Michael William Davis serves both classics—bi-coastal oysters, shellfish cioppino, a wonderfully juicy pink salt, roasted-brick chicken breast—and more creative fare. A thick piece of hake comes surrounded by tender chunks of pork cheek. The Fourth’s burger arrives on a tomato bun with a sunnyside up egg. For dessert, the Fuller’s London Porter ice cream is as crisp and frosty as a mug of the good stuff. Fennel-sage chicken meatballs and a poached egg are available for breakfast, if the night took you upstairs. Don’t steal the shampoo.