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Trestle on Tenth

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Trestle on Tenth

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Address: 242 10th Ave (24th St)
City: New York, NY
Zip: 10001
Phone: (212) 645-5659
Site: Visit the restaurant site
Map: Map
Chef: Ralf Kuettel
Cuisine: New American
2nd Cuisine: French
Area: Chelsea
Entree Price: $20-25


Trestle on Tenth is one of those restaurants that feels welcoming even from the sidewalk. Its windowed façade allows its soft white barlight to flutter out onto the dark cement and draw your eye inside, to a warm urban tavern flanked by raw brick walls. You think, “Hmmm, this looks nice.” And so, you decide to go inside. There you find a sweet neighborhood pub that’s been given modern edge with smooth blond wood ceilings and tall cabinetry. You find friends dining at the bar, tables filled with intent couples, large flocks of folks into their second bottles of wine, and an intimate garden where the navy night sky acts as your umbrella. You think, “I like it here,” and you have a seat. You have dinner and you think, “I love it here.” And the next week, you return for more. That has been the trajectory of events for me at Trestle on Tenth. It is the sort of place that makes you want to return. There’s an honest simplicity to the Trestle on Tenth that I find very appealing. The restaurant has that peaceful easy feeling (excuse the Eagles quote), and the menu plays along those lines as well, offering simple rustic food, a sort of gastro-pub by way of Switzerland from chef-owner Ralf Kuettel (formerly of Zoë, Union Square, Cena). I have eaten at Trestle on Tenth several times now, and what I like about Ralf is that his menu strays from the fray. There’s nothing ordinary about this menu. Ralf is doing his food his way—reaching contemporary American cuisine through Switzerland. Some may find it a bit too heavy given that it is summertime. But while the menu may read winter—oxtail and pig’s foot terrine ($12.50), a stuffed veal breast with rye berries ($22)—Ralf’s touch is refined and light. While the dishes tend to be bolder than meek, the execution is delicate—simple plating, ingredients left to there own beautiful devices with flavors that are coaxed out to full throttle. On each visit to Trestle, we have started with the platter of cured meats and cheeses ($12), a great selection that changes often. The night we were there it included Fromage D'Alpage L'Etivaz—a three-year old "Lait Cru" cheese is made in a small creamery in south Central Switzerland that has the flavor of Gouda, an extra-aged Gruyere, and Tête de Moine (my favorite of the lot)—a semi-soft nutty Swiss cheese (but no holes!), cut on a Girolle so it is ruffled at the edges. There was also air-dried Beef, sopressata, speck, and a small dish of sheep’s cheese mixed with butter that is good enough to eat off a spoon, or any other thing (or person) it happens to find its way on to. So, have yourself a platter of meats and cheeses, order a glass of wine (their Gruner Veltliner was perfect) or pint of beer (an Allagash White would work nicely as well), and then look over the menu and unwind, while perhaps revealing a story or two about your day to your friends. The menu is modest in size; so it won’t take you long to figure out your eating strategy. A table of four can easily get to all of Trestle’s greatest hits. I’d start with the house cured the gravlax of arctic char served with a dollop of horseradish cream, several strong slices of dark brown bread and a julienned radish salad ($13.50). The fish is nicely cured and silky in texture and the accompaniments are right on—simple and classic. While the char was great, my favorite appetizer was the crepinette of pork and cabbage with wilted lambs’ quarter (a green). Just in case you are wondering, a crepinette really has nothing to do with a crepe. It’s a small patty of pulled braised pork shoulder sautéed up with cabbage that’s tucked inside a melting wrapper of caul fat shaped like a hamburger. If it were served at Shake Shack, the line would stretch to the Hudson River. I also loved a simple butter lettuce salad ($10.50)—fluffy crisp lettuces dressed with buttermilk, speckled with bits of bacon and herb cheese. Frogs legs didn’t really excite me though, served with a lemony pile of frisee. They weren’t bad as much as just rather ordinary. On every occasion I have eaten at Trestle I have had the roasted chicken ($21). And I urge you to do the same. It is uncommon, I know, to go nuts for chicken, but lately I feel like chicken is the star of so many menus (have you had the one at The Little Owl or the one at The Harrison? Both are the Prada of poultry.) So, let’s talk about Ralf’s chicken shall we? It’s roasted so its golden skin is crispy, and its meat is moist and full of flavor, not flabby and bland. But it comes with a little surprise—a fabulous fresh wrapped cabbage roll, stuffed with minced chicken that has changed my feelings about stuffed cabbage forever. (After suffering through Grandma Esther’s stuffed cabbage for many childhood meals, and watching it being pulled from the freezer molded in a thick artic char of its own, I now have very positive feelings about it.) The roast chicken and its rolled up pal are set in a sheer chicken broth perfumed with fresh dill and bobbing with barely cooked summer vegetables—tomatoes, baby zucchini, and cippolini onions. The broth is an absolutely gorgeous expression of chicken; so delicate and refined it should be eaten with a Tiffany spoon. The roasted lamb saddle ($25) is also terrific. It is served wrapped in a glossy layer of fat for seasoning, is also wonderful, supple and lamby and served in thick slices with a heap of spicy mustard greens that offer the right amount of minty bite against the lamb’s rich and impossibly tender flesh. Now, Trestle on Tenth does have some misses. The stuffed veal breast, a gigantic portion with rye berry salad, reminded me a bit of corned beef in texture and was a bit too heavy for summertime. One night, the brined and roasted pork loin ($23), which was tender and served with great caramelized carrots, was too salty. The salmon, crusted in horseradish and sprayed with sprouted lentils ($20), was perfectly cooked so the flesh stayed moist and slippery, but it could have used a more aggressive dose of horseradish. Sides, however, were consistently flawless. Roasted beets ($6) have never tasted more earthy or sweet; pressed fingerling potatoes ($5.50) are served skin on, their flesh buttery, and drizzled with fruity olive oil, and dusted with sea salt and herbs. The star of the side board however is the gratinéed pizokle ($6), something that might have to be rationed out to me the next time I am there. Pizokle is the Swiss version of spaetzle, but for pizoke, the little dumplings are shaped like long fingers instead of arrows. The dumplings are tossed with a pile of caramelized onions and then gratineed with gruyere cheese. You know how the gnudi at the Spotted Pig have garnered cult status? Well, the pizokle at Trestle are on the same star track. I have continuously ordered one, and then ordered another because I must have more. I am a glutton. I freely admit it. Desserts ($9) were also very impressive (even after the pizokle). The summer fruit salad is the simplest thing, but it’s also spectacular. It looks like something from a still life—a Japanese bowl filled with sliced stone fruits and plump ripe berries tossed with a syrupy honey given some dimension with basil so it’s not too cloying. And the chocolate stout cake! I may just name my first-born Chocolate Stout Strong. Well, maybe not. Maybe just Stout? Why not? Stout Strong. I like it. So, anyway, back to the cake. It is shaped like a cupcake, with a swirl of thick chocolate frosting on top, and the cake itself is moist and buttery and perfectly balanced, with dark, rich spicy notes from the Stout. It’s the best chocolate dessert I have had in recent memory. You’ll be happy with what you are drinking as well as what you are eating. Juliette Pope, wine director of Gramercy Tavern, is Ralf’s wife, so the list is quite nice and spans Austria, France, Italy and the North Fork (Shinn Estate’s Red is on the list). There are a number of fabulous beers on tap as well, including that Allagash White from Maine, Corsendonk Brown Ale from Belgium, and Ayinger Weisse from Germany. When you leave Trestle on Tenth, and you turn and look down Tenth Avenue perhaps to hail a cab to take you home, you may turn back, and look at the soft barlight washing over the dark sidewalk. And you will think, “I liked it here. When are we coming back?”

Review By: Andrea Strong