Beatrice impresario Paul Sevigny, Nur Khan of the Rose Bar and comfort food genius Joey Campanaro—he of the Little Owl and Gravy Meatball Sliders. Think of Kenmare as a wonderful addition to an already bursting square inch of Nolita nightlife. Simply pick up the phone or walk in off the street. Friends of the house don’t get special treatment. In fact, drop-in seats are reserved every night for plain old neighborhood folk. And if you believe that, I can hook you up with a Nigerian prince handing out cash on the Internet. Unlike Graydon Carter’s hermetic canteen, the restaurant serves food that’s worth some hoop-jumping. Chef Joey Campanaro’s simple, Italian-accented fare comes reasonably priced and generously portioned, the last things you’d expect from a buzzy space with sultry lighting, pink stucco walls and the same eclectic mix of scruffy rockers, uptown celebutantes and insomniac lotharios who once prowled Sevigny’s Beatrice Inn (late night they migrate downstairs to the louche basement bar).
It may look like any gilded, dimly lit speakeasy diner at first, but you'll descend into a cavernous underground space decked with red leather banquettes and mottled stone columns that look like they were taken from an Egyptian tomb (dance like an Egyptian). In that spare space, amid a swarm of statuesque scenesters, you'll furnish your own mayhem and continue the dear departed virtues of inhibition-shedding and sanctioned illicitness. Medi theme carries over into marble tables, vaulted ceiling, pastel shades. Accents as elegant and modern as the crowd.
Inventive menu; natch, scallops with spinach-strawberry salad, swordfish and caramelized fennel, New York strip and asparagus risotto. You must try the: Tuna carpaccio, Colorado lamb T-bones, wild-berry-and-rhubarb crisp, Broccoli-beer soup, asparagus gratin, and crunchy veal cutlet. You must drink the sassetto sangiovese from Tuscany; a surprisingly reasonable flavor bomb of tart-cherry tannins.
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