RESTAURANT REVIEW: The Macintosh
The Macintosh restaurant opened in September on upper King Street. It could be in TriBeCa, SoHo or Kendall Square in Boston, but this Indigo Road restaurant group property is part of a wonderful upstairs/downstairs fleet that couples The Cocktail Club on the second floor and The Macintosh on the ground floor.
Walk inside and you are on the simultaneous trajectory of the hip and the homespun.
Steve Palmer, managing partner of The Indigo Road, parlays a design mold of sensible sophistication tailored to the refined renovation of Holy City properties.
Let your eyes rest on The Macintosh’s exposed brick walls colored by their years of service.
Glance down to the reclaimed flooring, surfaces worn by passages unknown, now cushioning the young, the tired, the thirsty, the well-heeled and high-heeled.
Belly up to table tops featuring “rescue doors” from the 19th century.
Observe the shadows cast by caged pendant lights.
Sink into the soft comfort of banquettes cushioned for pleasure and embrace the smart progeny of Palmer and his partner and executive chef Jeremiah Bacon, whose ascendant star I recognized first at Carolina’s.
In this small restaurant that takes its name from an alley that loosely meandered through the neighborhood, Bacon shines.
His mentors radiate through his disciplined, reliable kitchen. Shades of Thomas Keller: a studied staff, intent on preparations, making eye contact with each other as they prepare dishes that straddle both simplicity and complexity.
Rabbit ($12), gently braised, finds a warren of soft “Mac” potatoes done Aligot fashion with cheese, surrounded by peeled cherry tomatoes and chips of ricotta salata. It is a simple dish yet the attention to pristine leaves of flat-leaf parsley and a culinary “ruffle” of celery leaves make the simple complex.
Truffle frites ($5) are served to a neighboring table: The aroma of truffle drifts, fresh with an earthy seduction of umami.
Gnudi ($14) are served with a ragout of foraged mushrooms: hen of the woods, shiitake and oyster. The dish is rustic, restoring. It speaks to the season. Its clarity is the idiom of the chef.
Shades of Momofuku (NYC, David Chang) can be found in the hot and sour pork belly soup ($9); a Southern ramen celebrating rice grits.
His classic training shines in such dishes as grouper brandade ($8) with a lick of Alabama white barbecue sauce; he uses gastrique like a pepper mill.
But this chef of the South provides a culinary tithe to sunchokes, Ragged Jack collards, pickling vegetables and fruits, sweet potatoes, field peas and pecans.
His food roots are remembered and celebrated with calibrated technique.
Like chef Ken Vedrinski of Trattoria Lucca, Bacon honors deckle ($29), a beefy-meaty cap of fat and flavor that carnivores devour.
Vegetarians will find a seasonal vegetable plate ($19) that respects meatless dining.
This is a kitchen of focus and purpose.
Bacon and his staff mine the new as well as the tried and true.
The staff is very well-trained: attentive, deliberate and reliable ambassadors for the work of kitchen.
Foods are served at the proper temperatures.
Wines pair well with the menu.
The imperfections are not to be found in the food. Jackson Holland’s beverage menu of “Past,” “Present” and “Progressive” cocktails as well as the Mac Tap beer menu is conducive to refined relaxation. As edges are softened, voices become animated, and as the evening progresses, bar energy can affect the dining room.
The lights also are dim, and when the guests are illuminating the menu with their smartphones, it is time to amp it up.
But overall, The Macintosh marries the modernist technique with a seasonal larder of local food treasures and pleasures.
Bacon has found his galaxy with The Indigo Road restaurant group, and the sun is The Macintosh.