It is a slightly chilly Thursday evening in mid-April when I rock up for dinner at The Flatiron Room in New York, I was in need of a wintery warmer, a whiskey or few and some fantastic food. And that I received.
Just a few days earlier I had been in touch with a friend of mine in New York, Gene, who put me in touch with Tommy Tardie who owns The Flatiron Room in New York about reserving a table for myself and a dear old friend of mine who I had not seen in a long time.
As we walked in, and passed through the surprisingly heavy gold velvet curtains, we were greeted with a very warm welcome, by the staff and shown to the best table in the house at the front right of the stage with a perfect view of the awesome band playing that night and of the restaurant as a whole, with hundreds of bottles – both private and menu-listed – all beautifully displayed and presented in a tribute to the wonderful whiskey and whisky contained within.
It took a few minutes to settle in and take it all in in truth, as there was so much for a whiskey geek like me to coo over, including the whiskey bible with a bottle well into three-figures and a food menu that was intriguing, unique and wholesome.
Eventually I started with a lovely cocktail called The Triumph, which mixed Elijah Craig, Pedro Jimenez sherry, chocolate bitters and orange peel; a nice, indulgent way to start the evening.
One of the many things that impressed me about The Flatiron Room in New York was that it catered for both whiskey newbies and connoisseurs in equal, large measures with flights of whiskies centred around different themes such as local New York whiskeys, Scotch, International whiskies, Japanese whiskies that are designed to open up one’s mind, palate and flavour experience to help unearth new favourites, new styles you might want to further explore, or just to try something you otherwise would not have tried.
The staff were the heroes of the experience though, with each that I spoke to having more than a working knowledge of whiskey, more than Brand Ambassador-trained chat about the whiskeys; they had a passion, a genuine love for the bottles of aged spirit which adorn every wall in the place. Our server was Sarah, and she was brilliant; full of knowledge, a genuine interest in chatting about whiskey and a curiosity that means she tries new whiskeys all the time to further her knowledge – just as I do.
The band, a sort of old school crooner-esque ensemble of very talented musicians who not only played music, but felt the music (as some of my photos below might convey). They kept the pace of the evening, kept the mood of the evening and kept smiles raised throughout the evening all around the place.
I can only describe my starter, prawn and scallop meatballs with Mac ’n’ Cheese & Brussel Sprouts, was exceptional. Amongst the nicest food I’ve eaten in a year or more – you could actually taste every single element, every layer of flavour and these all laddered up to an ‘assemblage’ of wonderful flavour. The fried chicken was succulent, moist and fantastic too though the batter was a tad overdone.
Having enjoyed a wonderful meal, I was treated to an awesome six-part New York whiskey flight to enhance my experience of local whiskeys including The Most Righteous, Hudson Four Grain, Rough Rider, 287 Single Malt Whiskey, Sunshine Reserve American Whiskey and Pine Barrens American Single Malt Whisky.
All were really interesting in different ways, showing the diversity and dexterity of American whiskey that, for many, if falsely associated only with the sweet bourbons that are exported around the world en masse, and not the quality, high end products that are largely kept for the domestic market.
Finally, and without warning, Tommy had sent over a generous pour of a single barrel, bottled-in-bond, 11 Year Old Old Fitzgerald that was only available at the Heaven Hill Distillery in Kentucky for a very short time last year… and it was WONDERFUL. I had a proper, full-on whisky moment with this one, so much so that I both did not want it to end and nursed it for about half an hour as I enjoyed the final few songs of the band’s set.
All in all I loved this place from start to finish, cannot wait to return next time I’m in NYC with my wife so we can go and enjoy it together also.
Great times, great food, great whiskey – and a great big thank you to Tommy and his team who looked after us impeccably, and even covered the bill (unexpectedly I might add).