"Even the spinach tastes vaguely unhealthy, but that's OK. I only plan to eat Kuettel's crepinette once or twice a year. "
Trestle on Tenth
242 10th Avenue, New York NY 10001 (at 24th Street; map); 212-645-5659; trestleontenth.com
Service: Reasonably fast and solicitous
Setting: Quintessential neighborhood restaurant: exposed brick walls, wide-plank wood floors, unadorned wooden tables, cozy garden out back Compare It To: Resto, Irving Mill
Must-Haves: Crepinette of pork, garlic potato chips, brussels sprouts, torte, anything with whipped cream
Cost: $20 for one course, split dessert, and beverage
At Serious Eats World HQ, like any other hard-working crew anywhere, we're always on the lookout for fairly casual, reasonably priced but seriously delicious lunch spots within walking distance of our office. Don't we all long for such spots?
Trestle On Tenth opened a couple of years ago to generally positive reviews, and a couple of months ago, Gramercy Tavern chef and partner Michael Anthony sang the praises of its chef-partner Ralf Kuettel's Swiss-inflected cooking. Michael knows delicious in a big way, so when I found out that Trestle on Tenth was now open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I decided to make the foray to Tenth Avenue to sample Kuettel's pork, meat and strong cheese-centric cooking.
Both Adam Platt and Frank Bruni loved Keuttel's crepinette of pork ($11.50), which Wikipedia defines as: "A small, flattened sausage made of minced or ground pork, lamb, veal, or chicken, wrapped in caul fat. Usually breaded and sautéed in butter. Occasionally made with truffles." C'mon, how delicious sounding is that?
Kuettel's version is composed of pulled pork shoulder, savoy cabbage, and spices, bound together in caul fat, propped on a mound of spinach, and topped with a rich pork reduction. It is ridiculously rich, porky, and delicious. Even the spinach tastes vaguely unhealthy, but that's OK. I only plan to eat Kuettel's crepinette once or twice a year.
The Cobb salad ($13.75) came with shredded roasted chicken off-the-bone, ham, bacon, and blue cheese dressing, as well as green beans, mixed greens, thinly sliced radishes, and roasted peppers. It didn't look or taste like a classic Cobb salad (there was no egg or creamy dressing) but it sure was tasty and filling.
The ToT (Trestle on Tenth) Burger ($11.50) was problematic on a couple of fronts: the roasted rosemary potatoes were flaccid and uninteresting, and our medium-rare ordered burger arrived gray and uniformly well-done. It was, as Robyn noted, a "send-back burger," though time constraints prevented us from doing so. The caramelized onions (all toppings are $1 each) were most delicious, as were the housemade pickles that came with the burger.
A crab cake sandwich ($14.25) on toasted brioche with watercress-coleslaw was mostly crab and the potato chips that accompanied it were delicious, dark, and greaseless. Even better were the garlic potato chips ($3.25) we ordered for the table. Slightly greasy and not as dark, they were even more delicious—and similar to those served at the bar at Union Square Cafe.
The open-faced pork sandwich ($10.75) is obviously Kuettel's Swiss take on a Reuben. It's a hefty jumble of butt-ended pork loin and sauerkraut topped with aged Fontina cheese.
Downright dainty in comparison is the crunchy and lamb-y seared lamb tenderloin with sweet red onion jam, celery root salad, and walnuts ($12.75).
Side dishes are refreshingly uncomplicated, well-executed, and for the most part, pretty rich. Brussel sprouts with speck and fried shallots ($4.75) are, well, brussel sprouts with speck and fried shallots. Sounds seriously delicious, and in fact they are. The roasted heirloom beets ($4.50) are sweet, nutty, and downright minimalist in comparison. Gratinéed pizokel ($5.25) are stubby, little snake-shaped, spaetzle-like dumplings tossed in a saute pan with caramelized onions and Gruyere.
Kuettel also makes the desserts (all $8 each), and he doesn't take his foot off the rich, intensely flavored pedal for a moment with those, either.
Vanilla pot de creme is a very vanilla-y, smooth pudding served with chocolate sandies (little disks of chocolate butter). Single bean chocolate tart with whipped cream is a successful, refreshingly unsweet slice of pure chocolate bliss. You need the phenomenal dollop of whipped cream to cut the intense single bean chocolate. Chocolate double white-out cake is a Swiss version of what Americans call icebox cake. The standout though is, apparently, a resolutely Swiss one: the Nusstorte has a rich, buttery, not paper-thin crust and a perfect caramely, pecan pie-like filling made with walnuts.
Kuettel spent some time in the wine business in New York, so many knowledgeable wine folks have told me that his wine list is full of reasonably priced surprises. Trestle on Tenth may be ever-so-slightly off the beaten track, but Rolf Kuettel's ultra-hearty, pork, cheese, and flavor-drenched food is worth the trip (and to be completely fair to Kuettel, there are a few fish options on the dinner menu, which we didn't order).
To say that his food is hearty and full-flavored doesn't begin to adequately describe how gutsy and aggressive it is. And after you've enjoyed what Kuettel cooks for you, the walk will undoubtedly do you good.
I look forward to breakfast at the restaurant, which features such non-shrinking violet items like Bure Rösti (a Swiss bacon-onion potato hash with housemade pork sausage, melted cheese and two fried eggs; I want now!) and duck confit hash with poached eggs and sauce béarnaise. No wonder Frank Bruni wrote this: "Trestle on Tenth is the kind of restaurant at which, no matter what you ate, you feel as if you had brisket." Is there really anything wrong with that?