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The Early Word on Freemans' Packed Offshoot Peels

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Peels, the Southern/American restaurant from Freemans' William Tigertt and Taavo Somer soft-opened about a month ago in the old Kelley and Ping space at 325 Bowery. With an inspired "build-a-biscuit" program and serious but cutesy cocktails, they've welcomed instant crowds and the expected. But what sayeth the people? Will Peels turn out to be a hollow shell of a restaurant, or will it reveal layers and layers of dining goodness? To the Early Word:

The Very Good News: On Yelp, user Chantelle K. has a rave for the inaugural brunch. "Having watched the formation of Peels myself for a few months now (my apartment is literally 4 doors down), I was excited to finally pop in and give it a try! When we did, we came here (unknowingly!) for the first day they did brunch. That said, I was super impressed by the food, ambiance and our waitress was a little peach. If this is how things went on Day 1, I have to imagine this will be quite the stomping ground in just a short time." [Yelp]

The Okay News: Blogger Dry Wood Bursting Into Flamesurprised to find a busy lunch scene on the Friday of Labor Day weekend, and enjoys but isn't floored by the food. "Visiting on a Friday, and the Friday of Labor Day weekend mind you, bore no letup for the much talked and blogged about cafe. The cafe was chocker mid-afternoon, with a few parties waiting for a table. With a good selection of coffee and pastries, and a decent sandwich list – I had the Gobblecado which was good but not quite amazing – I’d certainly revisit for any meal be it breakfast (build your own biscuit sandwiches), lunch or dinner (fried chicken!) – Peels is a great addition to the neighborhood, and the ambiance is spot on – more European cafe than CBGB with high wooden tables and stools – the Bowery has certainly undergone a revamp in years past." [DWBIF]

The "Highs and Lows" News: Queenie Takes Manhattan goes for a Saturday lunch, and while she flips over their Stumptown Coffee, her dessert is out of whack: "We'd spotted homemade graham crackers in the take-out dessert display on our way in, and so I couldn't resist ordering the s'mores. They were pretty dang good - the homemade crackers were slightly chewier and far spicier than the commercial variety, and the fresh marshmallow was satisfyingly pillowy. The chocolate was dark and just a little bitter, the way I like it, and the better to contrast with the marshmallow. The only issue? It was cold! This is not a hot, melty s'more, and that, my friends, is a shame." [QTM]

The Good News: At First Bite NYC files a Quick Bite, calls it an "upscale diner" and likes the casual vibe. "The savvy Freeman’s people know that cocktails attract customers like bees to honey, so even though it’s diner food, you can get a pretty damn involved cocktail. That’s why a cocktail is $13 and a cheeseburger is $12. Must be those hand-muddled juices. The wide, high-top wood communal tables on the first floor are my favorite. Peel’s is totally casual, a place you can drop in with pals for an unfussy dinner, cheap beer and a fine Sazerac." [AFBNYC]

The Bad News: Joanne Wilson finds a nice staff but bad food: "The dining room sort of feels like a beach restaurant. Clean, white and light wood. The noise level is insane. Perhaps part of the charm but definitely was raising my voice to be heard...The trout spread was more like a trout crumble. You tasted more citrus than the trout...The calamari was perfectly grilled but the greens got mushy...Shrimps and grits was hands down the best thing. Outstanding...One of us had the special of the night which was a braised lamb shank with a mole sauce. It was good nothing great...Fred had the t-bone and said it was just not good. No flavor and tough. He was right, I tasted it...My friend and I split the massive rib-eye which was good. Nothing special but the meat was had flavor. Dessert was terrible." [Gotham Gal]

The Good, but Pricey News: Yelper sk likes the food, but balks at the check. "The upstairs dining room is cute but it does have a bit of that "too new" vibe going on. We shared the Baja salad which was yummy. I had fried chicken and a very nice bourbon grape cocktail. He had catfish and Allagash White. Everything was tasty and service was good, though I suffered from diner's remorse after the check. (My chicken with grilled corn and a watermelon slice was generous in size and flavor -- no room for dessert -- but it was also $20. $20!!!!)...The boyfriend says the place has a certain "European je-ne-sais-quoi". This means his parents would like it. I can't help but wonder if the 3-thighs with biscuits at Commodore ($9, been meaning to try) are a much better deal." [Yelp]

The "Twitterific" News: Food and Wine's Kate Krader gives their carrots some love, "At peel's, trout salad v good esp cuz that is best carrot ever as part of market veg side. La plancha squid w/padron peppers also xcellent". apt4 is not happy paying for tap water, "Freemans spinoff Peels: Decent food but sub-par service and $3 for their "filtered" tap water. Shant be going back any time soon". Jane Lerner is glad to have leftovers, "omg, the fried chicken at Peels! (even better cold today.)". To which Benjamin Haas replies, "@janelerner Is Peels still serving their fried chicken medium-rare? They served it to me pink & then told me they do that on purpose".
—Zachary Feldman
· All Coverage of Peels [~ENY~]

Peels

325 Bowery, New York, NY 10003 Visit Website

Peels

325 Bowery, New York, NY

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