The Intoxication of Gallow Green at the McKittrick Hotel
It is rare when reading restaurant reviews that tout such superlatives as “transcendent, immersive, transportive,” that we are meant to take these terms literally. This time, dear readers, let me advise you to read carefully: such terms employed here will most definitely be meant literally.
Gallow Green is one deliriously pleasant place—and oh so much more than merely food and drink (though both, on their own, are well worth the trouble of garnering reservations).
For those who’ve experienced Sleep No More, and know The Mckittrick Hotel, there will be an eerily captivating feeling of déjà vu. Everything that this theatrical phenomenon seeps into (and it just keeps seeping—floor to floor, room to room, building to building) seems to take on a peculiar character, uniting them all in one suspended reality. Gallow Green, the latest, and most independent, manifestation of this phenomenon, is no exception. Except that it is accessible on its own, outside of the dark confines of The Mckittrick, with its very own top-notch chef (hailing from Employees Only, the well-respected, Julia Jaksic) and its terrifically dangerous cocktail list, (designed by “cocktail historian,” David Wondrich) which includes several intriguing punches (that indeed pack quite a stiff punch).
Upon arrival to the fourth floor rooftop, by way of creaking, wood-paneled elevator (complete with a pale, rakish and deep-voiced operator) you step into a dark lobby with a solemn attendant who takes your coat and bids you ascend the winding staircase. At the top an artfully decaying world opens up before you and, like the Sleep No More experience, you realize with happy confidence that no detail has been left unconsidered. There is a curiously unexplained train theme to the space, with locomotive tracks running the length of the main thoroughfare. An ancient, battered train car, with delicate lace curtains that blow gently in tatters, is one option for intimate dining. But such mysterious stylistic alliances only add to the intrigue.
Immediately, you are greeted by someone who claims to “have missed you” or who’s “been waiting for you all night” (in essence, an actor who’s job it is to catch you off guard and immediately make you feel a bit giddy and somehow flattered). They take your hand and lead you to a more traditional hostess, who does, in fact, have use of a computer and can confirm your reservation in the 21st century on multiple levels.
Elsewhere, the tiring trend of “speakeasy style” vintage cocktails seems a bit forced, but here—where everything is already perfectly over the top—they seem as natural as juice boxes at playtime. Well-balanced by deft hands, the cocktails are far too easy to drink down, especially when paired with the exceptional bar snacks on hand. The tangy salty crunch of the addictive curried hominy is smoothed by a silky mixture of Absolute Vodka and crimson Port in the playfully-named “Blonde in Peril.”
Though short, the menu as a whole offers a nice array of whimsical pub food. And despite being the least traditional of the lot (when compared to sliders and crab dips) the incredibly good smoked trout salad on its own was almost as transcendent as the entire experience. Perfectly dressed and playing off a variety of engaging textures, the dish is so good you will be considering realistically ordering seconds.
If such brazen acts begin to play across the realms of your possibilities, then consider ordering the house punch. A coquettishly disarming concoction of absinth and delord blanche white armagnac, among other ingredients, the punch is mixed tableside culminating with a grandiose flambé as the bowl is set on fire just before served. Suddenly all eyes are upon your table, lit up by the dramatically burning light.
And you thought the actors were theatrical.
- Ava Fedorov
P.S. The heavenly cheese plate is to die for.
Photographs by Jeffery Owens for Socially Superlative
Gallow Green at The McKittrick Hotel
530 W. 27th St.
New York, NY 10001
Reservations are recommended, and the speakeasy requires an advance purchase of $20 per guest, which is applied to your final bill.