In the 1990s, Alison on Dominick had a successful run in New York’s SoHo neighborhood, thanks to the charm of owner Alison Price Becker and homey, flavorful food by some notable chefs. The restaurant closed in 2002, a victim of the post-9/11 troubles.
This year, Price Becker returned to the New York restaurant scene, opening Alison Eighteen in Chelsea. I paid a visit early in its run. The space is sophisticated yet comfortable, with a spacious bar and an elegant dining room featuring dark leather, polished wood and warm light. The menu is brief now, with straightforward dishes elevated by careful preparation and presentation. The short wine list focuses on affordable wines, mostly from France and Italy.
I went with a friend and we had some hits and some misses. A stew of oysters and celery was thick and a bit dull, but grilled octopus ($15) was succulent. Lamb shoulder cooked on a rotisserie was flavorful, if a bit gristly; the root vegetables that accompanied it were delicious. Briny, juicy razor clams were terrific over tasty but slightly heavy fettucine ($29).
We drank a white Bordeaux, Château Graville-Lacoste Graves 2010 ($41). A blend of mostly Sémillon with Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle (reversing the normal proportions for white Bordeaux), it had the bright acidity characteristic of the vintage and a slight funky note (characteristic of the portfolio of importer Kermit Lynch), which made it an excellent match for the seafood. I rated it 88 points, non-blind, and will definitely return to the restaurant, after giving it some time to find its footing.
15 W. 18th St.
WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review for Château Graville-Lacoste Graves 2010 (88 points).