The Breslin: a Pub with an Edge

The Breslin ★★★½

16 West 29th Street

New York, NY 10001

Ever since I traveled to Ireland over the summer, I have had a really deep appreciation for pubs and “pub-like” atmospheres. So when I stumbled upon the The Breslin, a unique British gastro-pub on 29th & 5th ave, I was extremely excited and knew I had to eat there. I love being adventurous when it comes to food, and the menu really peaked my interest with a unique selection ranging from onion and (bone) marrow soup to pig’s feet for two.

I decided to invite one of my best friends, who is also a big fan of Manhattan food adventures, to join me on my visit to The Breslin. We decided to go for lunch on a Tuesday. Being that it was Tuesday, we did not think it would be very crowded, but to our surprise we had to wait about fifteen minutes to get a table. While we waited at the bar, I noticed that the Breslin is not just your basic pub like the ones that can be found in midtown Manhattan. It has more to offer: it is cozy and relaxed, yet upbeat and trendy. After observing the atmosphere, it became obvious that the Breslin is the perfect place to have a lunch break and escape from the busyness that surrounds in the streets of the city.

The front of the restaurant and the bar area

My friend and I were led to get a table in the back of the restaurant where the lighting changed from natural to dim. We sat down and began to browse the menu, even though we already sort of had an idea of what we wanted. Originally, we were going to have some wine, but we noticed that the drink menu had an eclectic selection of gin and beer cocktails, so we decided to take the plunge and get ourselves some gin. I ordered a tonic and grapefruit and my friend ordered the gin and lavender.

The waitress brought our drinks to the table and after one sip, my friend and I both noticed that the gin was a bit too prominent to say the least. A little too strong of cocktails for a lunch date, so if you are in the mood for a lunch cocktail, I don’t recommend going for the gin.

The Tonic and Grapefruit (taken with @nycdinig Instagram)

After a while of thinking through our meal, my friend and I finally made up our minds and placed our orders. To start, we would share the Onion and Marrow soup with parmesan toast and the Lamb Scrumpets and for our entrées, my friend got the Fish & Chips and I ordered the famous Lamb Burger with Feta cheese and cumin mayonnaise.

Our Onion and Marrow soup with Parmesan toast came out first and we did not hesitate to eat it, even when it was still steaming intensely in front of us. Primarily, the waitress had told us that the marrow is more prominent in the soup than the onion, which made my friend a bit nervous, but we were pleasantly surprised to find that it was not too earthy or “meaty.” The soup was thicker than traditional French onion soup, but a lot oilier due to the marrow. The marrow made the soup a bit earthy but was balanced out by the sweetness of the onions. Not only was the broth delicious, but the Parmesan toast in the middle was crunchy, yet soggy, and added a cheesy dimension to the stew. To say the least, we were very surprised by the onion and marrow soup.

Right when we finished our soup, our lamb scrumpets with mint vinegar were brought to the table. My friend took a bite and was not a fan of how earthy they tasted. I, on the other hand, loved the lamb scrumpets because I am a huge fan of lamb. They basically tasted like fried lamb shank and are definitely very meaty tasting, so if you do not like lamb or the taste of meat, you should probably refrain from ordering the scrumpets. Although I liked the scrumpets, I was not a fan of the mint vinegar served with them. In my opinion, the vinegar was a bit too strong of a dipping sauce to pair with the already intense taste of the lamb.

I ended up eating both of the lamb scrumpets (oops), and conveniently right after I finished, our entrées were brought to the table. My friend and I decided to follow through with our plan of action and try to share our entrees, but that did not work out as planned because she did not like my burger and I was not very fond of her fish and chips. As I said earlier, I am a huge fan of lamb, so when I took a bite of the Lamb Burger with Feta Cheese (I left the cumin mayo on the side) I was very, very pleased. I had already read raving reviews about the lamb burger, but I am so happy I tried it myself because…why wouldnt I? The burger was served medium rare, extremely juicy, and on a perfectly toasted bun which, when bitten into, makes a delightful “crunch” sound. The lamb in the burger is very different from that in the scrumpets in that it is red meat and the lamb in the scrumpets is fully cooked and has an earthier lamb shank taste. The feta cheese also complimented the rich flavor of the lamb so well that I decided to leave out the cumin mayo.

My friend’s fish and chips were light and flaky, almost as if they were fish tempura. When I took a bite, I felt that they tasted kind of dull and lacked salt. However, my friend said she really loved the fish and chips, but she also ordered a side of vinegar to dip them in which probably added some of the missing saltiness back. I personally liked the lamb burger a lot more than the fish and chips, but I think it depends on each individual palate. Also, both the fish and chips and the lamb burger came with a side of fries, which were fried to a golden crisp and salted perfectly.

     By the end of the meal, my friend and I still did not finish our cocktails because they were way too strong and did not go well with either one of our dishes. I have come to the conclusion that if you are not a usual gin drinker, you probably should not go for a gin cocktail to start your meal off. Otherwise, I definitely recommend the onion and marrow soup and the lamb burger with feta cheese because they are pretty unique dishes that are also quite delicious. If I did not like lamb, I would probably try the oven baked three-cheese sandwich with onion marmalade and mustard for lunch. I also plan on returning back to the Breslin for dinner and getting the pig’s feet or two, so stay tuned for a review on the dinner as well! Over all, The Breslin has a great atmosphere and uniquely delicious dishes. However, the gin cocktails were not very enjoyable and the lamb scrumpets and fish and chips have acquired tastes. Follow your instinct with what you order. 3.5 stars.

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