Last week, nightlife crusaders Nur Khan and Paul Sevigny opened the floodgates to Kenmare, their earnest foray into the restaurant world with chef Joey Campanaro commanding the kitchen. The menu runs the "New American" gamut, from broccoli-beer soup to crispy halibut and seasonal risottos—and of course it wouldn't be a Campanaro joint without the requisite meatball sliders. People on Twitter are mostly raving while the Yelpers who've chimed in are split, and several folks make note of the subterranean rumbling of the 6 train.
The Good News: Yelper Lawrence L. likes the food and the new door handles: "The wacky door handles were the first things to catch my attention as I opened the door to what used to be Civetta. Asparagus gratin did a great job as an appetizer because it was not so heavy that it competed with the entree. I kept the main dish simple by ordering "The Chicken". I was not disappointed by chunks of moist white meat on a bed of beans and scraps of dark meat. The cannoli we chose for dessert came in bite-sized pairs with a dollop of pistachio ice cream made for a simple end to delicious dinner. Aside from the constant rumble of the express 4/5 train passing beneath us, I would count this as a very enjoyable experience." [Yelp]
The Also Good News: On Twitter, PR maven Karine Bakhoum agrees with The Insatiable One: "Gael & I agree- Parmesan risotto with egg yolk & truffle butter & basil gnocchi w/ shortrib ragu both yummy @ Kenmare" [Twitter]
The Bad News: This Yelper doesn't believe the hype. "Though the food was OK, this place is really more about the scene (which was snotty and overwrought) than anything else, despite whatever the proprietors might say. It was packed last night; no surprise as there's been a lot of buzz about this place. We had a 10:00 reservation and were not seated until 10:35. I had two old-fashioneds while waiting (we got there at 9:30 to hang out at the bar), which were very uneven: the first tasted like it was missing bitters, the second was overly sweet. The hostesses were patronizing, especially the one wearing the idiotic hat who informed us there was a private party downstairs and practically brushed us out of the way." [Yelp]
The Great News: An out-of-towner Chowhound has a rave. "First of all, let me say that I really dig the vibe of this place. The decor, the ambiance, everything about it is really well done. They were not TOTALLY full, but were quite bustling, and the bar area (which, though small, is also beautiful) was hopping! Service was excellent throughout, with only a small hiccup once or twice – notable as this place has only been open a week. We started with the Basil Gnocchi, the Risotto (poached egg and black truffle), and the Asparagus Gratin. All three were really scrumptious, with the Risotto being the favorite of the group. Perfectly cooked – creamy with just the nicest hint of firmness – it delivered that decadent running yolk and truffle 1-2 combo of flavor. What was really nice is that our server had the kitchen split up the gnocchi and the risotto 3 ways, so that we were each brought our own plate with a small bowl of both, and then the one large serving dish of asparagus was set in the middle. Though small, this was a really appreciated touch...We’ve been in town a week and this was the first meal that really “wowed” us and made us feel like we are back in one of the greatest dining towns in the world." [CH]
The Krader Weigh In: Food & Wine's Kate Krader, who speaks ill of no one, to be fair, is an early fan: "as soon as possible—i.e., Monday, opening night—I trekked to Campanaro’s new spot, Kenmare, on the edge of Little Italy, to see him in action. No surprise, the food is killer, namely pillowy basil gnocchi with a rich short rib ragù and spaghetti fra diavolo with lots of lobster and shrimp. The big-deal dish is the main-course chicken—called The Chicken. Campanaro smokes, then confits the legs so they’re extra-tender, cures the crisp-skinned breast and serves it all in flavorful gravy." [MO]
The "Good Food / Bad Service" News: BonApp publisher Paul Jowdy enjoyed his meal but not the service. "Kenmare:great space, pretty people #Joey Campanaro's food does not dissappoint,get the Halibut. Though they rudely rushed us. Uncool!" [Twitter]