Jeffrey Chodorow's Borough opens tonight. After a peek last night, we're convinced it's by far the most restrained of his recent restaurants. No ninja swords, as at Kobe Club, no golden spermy fish hanging from the ceiling, as at Wild Salmon. That's not to say the place doesn't have a gimmick. The idea behind the menu (by Zak Pelaccio, late of 5 Ninth) is that it represents the food stuffs from the ethnic communities that can be found in New York's 5 Boroughs. Borough, get it? There were fried pickles for the Jews, fried chicken for the Blacks, and clam casino flatbreads for the Itals. This is the restaurant version of Joseph Sitt's Coney Island: There's something for everyone. Except the Asians.
The space itself, as semi-gratuitously noted the New York Times today, is kitted out to look old. "The floors, walls and ceiling of the main dining room are covered with wood salvaged from piers, mushroom barns and factories." And in the back there's a pool table, probably one of the nicest in the area, surrounded by weird pulleys and other farming equipment.
As for the food, whether you'll like it or not depends on how you feel about shmaltz, buttermilk and fried shit, of which there is a lot on the menu. Also on the menu is the trademark Chodorow logorrhea. The salad isn't just mixed greens and duck but "honey locust farmhouse greens, east corner wonton roasted duck, poached rhubarb, fennel, grilled spring onions, citrus dressing." Dude. It's a salad, chill.
Borough felt a little "meh." It's comfort food in a comfortable environment. If you don't mind paying fairly stiffly for such, well, at least you're still in Manhattan.