Chumley’s is nothing like the original West Village speakeasy with the same name, according to Pete Wells.
While the Bedford Street space — first opened during Prohibition — has the same door and archway, the Times critic notes that the two have little else in common. He writes: “If you heard that Chumley’s is open again, you were misinformed. The dim, spare, beer-scented hideaway in the West Village is gone, torn down, not coming back.” Wells quips that the writers who used to visit Chumley’s in its heyday (F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner), would not be able to afford a cocktail today.
Still, Wells is pleased as punch with what Chumley’s 2.0 has to offer, crediting chef Victoria Blamey’s exciting menu. Here is Wells on one of his favorites:
Chumley’s beef tartare goes a few places other tartares don’t. Instead of mustard and capers, it takes its sharpness from confit tomatoes and gratings of a sheep’s milk cheese from Catalonia. It’s meant to be spread on a wavy, blistered puff of fried beef tendon. Crunchier and airier than a cracker, the tendon has a very clean flavor and doesn’t soak up the taste of raw steak the way toast does.
Wells is also particularly enamored with the burger: “I imagine the burger is pretty great after a few drinks. I ate it while I was as sober as a mechanical pencil, and it was all I could do not to paint my face with grease until I looked like Martin Sheen at the end of ‘Apocalypse Now.’” He gives the restaurant two stars.