Willow Road… New Meatpacking Hot Spot
I’m always looking to find a new up and coming restaurant in NYC… and when my boss mentioned Willow Road, I was excited to check it out. About 2 weeks ago, my boss came in and said he had heard some hype about this new place in the meat packing (85 West 10th Ave between W15th and W16th Street). I immediately googled it and booked a reservation. I read that restaurant designer, Chris Kofistas (ABC Kitchen and Jean-Georges Vongerichten), worked on the building so I knew it would be cool. The sign above “Baked By Electricity” was something Kofistas kept at Willow Road to “pay homage to the building’s history, which was the Nabisco factory”. It was definitely a cool part of the decor.
The space is small but very cozy, it can’t seat more than 100 people and maybe 10 at the bar. But, that’s ok. It’s intimate yet has a really cool busy feeling. We had a 6:15 reservation and were sat immediately, but right around 7:00 the place was packed.
We started with these great little cocktails, champagne-ish but really fruity and strong. I forget the name, which proves they were good, but something fresca! Our waiter Andy, was awesome. He immediately knew the vibe of our table and gave us the scoop of what to get and what not to get. He recommended we start with the Artichoke Fregula Sarda and we agreed and added the Hunk Of Cheddar Cheese with Grilled Country Bread. The artichokes were delicious. About (3) large, braised artichoke hearts over these little baby fava bean balls. It was soooo good (only item not pictured below because it looked weird photographed and i didn’t want to give it a bad rep). The cheese and bread were also great, but cheese and bread can never be bad.
After 2 more rounds of fresca’s Andy was dying for us to order our main courses. Again, as per his recommendation, we went with the Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Willow’s Mac’n’Cheese and the side dish of Brussel Sprouts (with sage and hazelnuts). The main courses were smaller than I thought they would be portion wise, but that really was OK because the food was rich and filling. The fried chicken was delicious, there were (3) pieces and they had so much flavor. Definitely a different seasoning, a little spicy but very good and cooked to perfection. The mac’n’cheese was also REALLY good. They seemed to have taken a lighter take on mac’n’cheese which I appreciated, it made me feel less guilty eating it and it was equally as delicious as the heavier mac’n’cheeses I’ve eaten. The brussel sprouts were amazing. For some reason I’m on a weird ‘I love brussel sprouts’ kick, but these were really good.
Finally, there was dessert. We again went to Andy for advice and he said try the custard and the fried candy bar… We all stopped dead in our tracks and said FRIED CANDY BAR? He laughed and brought it out for is. The custard was really good, but I feel bad for it because the fried candy bar blew it away. It’s a homemade snickers type of candy bar deep fried and served with vanilla ice-cream and some chocolate crunchy things. It was so good… It’s a MUST save room for item.
We got our bill almost 3 hours after we sat down and that’s when the hostess asked us to please pay and free up the table. Other than that we didn’t feel rushed and the service was great.
Over all it was a great experience. If Willow Road continues to have nights like last night’s it will blow up and become a new hot spot for the meatpacking district. I highly recommend going to this restaurant. I would not recommend this spot for a romantic, quiet, date night because it is a little loud, but would be awesome for a double date or a night out with friends.