Opened last August, The Cavalier is the third restaurant by partners Anna Weinberg, James Nicholas and Chef Jennifer Puccio, who also own and operate Marlowe and Park Tavern. Located in the lobby of Hotel Zetta and open all day, this London-inspired gastropub offers a respite for downtown shoppers, workers and tourists. The interior features four separate dining areas that are all handsomely appointed in British style: a long bar that seats 20 plus several marble brasserie-style tables in the front, and three dining areas in the rear with tufted leather banquets and separate themes (stable, train compartment and billiard club). As BarFlys, we’ve pretty much spent our visits in the luxurious marble topped long bar, where excellent cocktails arrive fast.
The cocktail menu is separated into Cavalier Classics, Club Cocktails (drinks invented at famous London clubs) and Colony Cocktails (featuring rums and American whiskeys.) We started with a Whiz Bang (Tobermory Scotch, Cherry Heering, Sweet Vermouth, Absinthe), first made in the Sport’s Club in 1920, and The Barrister (Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Nardini Amaro, White Vermouth, Benedictine) from he Cavalier Classics cocktail menu. Both of the cocktails were nicely balanced with just a hint of sweetness:
The menu is centered around updates of classic British dishes and is broken up into five categories: Appetizers, Eggs and Cheese, Entrées, Rotisserie and Sides. We’ll have to return for the Lamb Scrumpets one day, but since Dungeness Crab season just opened, we started with the delicious Deviled Crab and Bay Shrimp appetizer. We topped the accompanying cucumber slices with the seafood spread, which is served in a pot, and added a dollop of the lemon aioli to form a perfect bite:
We were intrigued by the menu item labeled Boat of Prawns, which literally turned out to be a gravy boat filled with five succulent head-on prawns. Served with a spiced salt to season to taste and a very British Marie-rose dipping sauce (mayo-ketchup cocktail sauce), the tasty crustaceans disappeared pretty fast:
Thankfully, their wine list is not comprised of British wines, but it did have this Southern Rhone blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre from Le Mas des Flauzieres Vacqueyras Le Pilon that we knew would pair well with the rest of our meal:
We love our eggs, and one of the best things about The Cavalier is that they have a special four-item egg menu. We just had to get the appealingly named Duck Duck Scotch Egg. A soft boiled duck egg is wrapped in a duck and mushroom mixture, then deep fried to a crisp. The arugula leaves added a peppery spiciness, and the stone fruit chutney that accompanied it was delicious as a condiment to the egg and on its own:
A view of the split egg shows that the egg was cooked to perfection with a still-runny yolk:
They must stock a lot of gravy boats, as we noticed that several of the platters coming out of the kitchen used them, including this really great Beef Dripping Chips. The thrice-cooked fries were really excellent, and the red wine beef jus had just enough horseradish mixed in for a perfect level of spiciness:
We had to try their Fish and Chips made with Petrale sole; it’s a very good version of the pub standard. The seemingly grease-free filets were crispy and flaky. The fish were tastily accompanied by the thrice cooked fries and jarred malt vinegar aioli. We were happy to see that in place of mushy peas, the legumes were presented in fresh whole and sprout forms. It may be the dip, but we think that the fries with this dish are definitely different from the Beef Dripping version (perhaps thinner?). These were still tasty, but the beefy version was sublime:
We returned to the Egg and Cheese menu for dessert and ordered the rich and enjoyable Welsh Rarebit Soufflé, served sitting in a puddle of cheese sauce. The winter cress provided just the right amount of bitter spiciness to counter the richness of the rarebit:
We ended this excellent meal with a couple more cocktails: an East Indies Sling (Bombay Sapphire Gin, Sweet Vermouth, Lemon, Fernet Branca, Maraschino) and another one of the tasty Whiz Bangs:
An outside view of The Cavalier peeking into the long bar:
British food does not have a great reputation and is generally maligned, but the deft touch of Chef Puccio on the updated gastropub fare has already made us regulars.