Beagle opened last summer in the old Orologio space, a restaurant that I used to stop in at on Sundays whenever I was too lazy to walk the two additional blocks to St. Dymphna’s for lunch. The Beagle owners have transformed the dining room and bar area; they’re both quite elegant.
This is a place for fancy cocktails, and the menu offered several concoctions with bitters and lillet and genever and Campari and all kinds of other things that I never get to drink. I had two different drinks–they were both small, expensive, and extremely strong. They were so strong that I can’t remember the name of either of them, but I do remember that they were both vaguely citrus-and-spicy, served up in tiny, sexy coupes, and that I liked the one that had the word “apothecary” in it. My friend Bene had a Prince of Wales (whiskey, maraschino, champagne, pineapple) which was too sugary for my taste.
Bene and I decided to order a few “tidbits” and “starters” (separate categories on the menu). Above, a fig and woodlands bacon tidbit that was really quite nice. The bacon was extremely flavorful. Those little dots are bottarga, cured fish eggs, which added a crunchy texture that sort of “bit back,” and really gave this plate a little extra oomph.
This pork belly had a lovely silky texture. Those are very thin slices of silky butternut squash below. I liked this dish, but are pork belly had bites that were heavily over-salted, and I didn’t understand the need for all that parsley on top.
The duck and lamb nuggets with two different sauerkrauts and apple butter were lovely. The duck nugget was perfect–the lamb nugget was a little dry. But the combo of flavors–a dollop of lamb butter, a few strands of sauerkraut, and a bite of nugget–worked impeccably together, making this my favorite plate.
Duck schmaltz (fat). I liked the presentation here (that’s salt in the middle), which guided us on how to eat it–dip the bread in the scmaltz and sprinkle some salt on top. The schmaltz tasted nice, but not exceptional. It’s hard for duck-fat gravy not to taste good. I wish the bread slices had been thicker, which would have allowed for better schmaltz absorption.
Finally, here’s our disappointingly plated “Cranachan” dessert–scotch-flavored whipped cream and roasted apples. The amount that this dessert looked like fried plantains with a scoop of lard disturbed me, and the plating was kind of slapdash. If you have ever wondered what whipped cream-flavored scotch (as opposed to Scotch-flavored whipped cream) would taste like, you should order this. It tastes pretty good, actually, whipped cream with no hint of sugariness. I wished there are had been more apples to eat the cream with. The apples were mushy.
One thing I did notice about Beagle is that the decor is a lot like the decor at Elizabeth’s here on the Upper West Side, but it’s much more intelligently done at Beagle. For example, instead of all of the walls being painted a deep blue like they are at Elizabeth’s, just one of the walls is painted blue, and the other walls are decorated with a complementary wallpaper.
The restaurant is small but not cramped. There’s even room for a random antique desk in the window.