Raising the Bar: Being Local at Wilfie & Nell

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[Photo: Tia Kim]

Every neighborhood has a bar the residents like to call their own, but few have one serving good food made with quality ingredients from local businesses. At Wilfie & Nell, the bread is from Blue Ribbon Bakery, the cheese from Murray's, and the pickles from McClure's. It's an all-star lineup, but does the food deliver? For the most part, yes.

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The Scotch Egg with wholegrain mustard ($4) is an Irish and British pub snack that shouldn't be missed if you've never had it. (Wilfie & Nell is owned by Irish brothers, and the bar is named after their grandparents.) It's a hard boiled egg shelled, wrapped in sage sausage, breaded, deep fried, quartered, and then generously dusted with cracked black pepper and sea salt. Eggs and sausage, as any breakfast lover would know, is a match made in heaven, but breaded and deep-fried, it's a recipe for nirvana.

However, although the exterior had an impressive crunch, I found the sausage a tad dry, especially with the cooked-through yolks. Not to worry though, a swig of beer between bites resolved any issues. My beer that day was a Smithwick's ($6) on tap, which tastes similar to Guinness, but slightly lighter. It made for a filling, but satisfying combination.

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Berkshire Pork Sliders ($10) on toasted brioche buns, served with spicy McClure's pickles and whole grain mustard was fine, but the pulled pork suffered the same problem as the sausage; it was a little dry. Fortunately, the servers at Wilfie & Nell aren't condiment Nazis, so with my beer almost depleted, a bit of HP sauce made the sliders go down smoother.

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20091111wilfienell_grilledcheese2.jpgGrilled Cheese on Pullman Loaf ($7) with caramelized onions (an extra $1), however, didn't need a single thing. Between a choice of cheddar, Tallegio, and Gruyere, I chose Tallegio and the mild cheese worked wonderfully with the sweet caramelized onions. For those wanting a little bite in their grilled cheese, the sandwich comes with whole grain mustard and spicy pickles. I partook of both.

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Fries ($4) were also surprisingly really good. I normally don't have much luck with thick-cut fries at a pub, but these skin-on babies were crunchy and well salted. The fries come with malt vinegar, but I reverted back to the HP sauce. I notice once you get started with the HP, it becomes quite addictive.

20091111wilfienell_bramble.jpgAnd for those looking for dessert, there aren't any sweets on the menu, but you can order the delicious Bramble ($9), a gin cocktail made with blackberry preservers from Beth's Farm Kitchen. It's sweet yet crisp because of the cold gin.

Wilfie & Nell isn't my neighborhood bar, but I can see myself making the short trek every once in a while. For the grilled cheese and Scotch Egg, I'll gladly pretend to be a local.

Wilfie & Nell
228 West 4th Street, New York NY 10014 (b/n 7th Ave & West 10th St; map)
212-242-2990
wilfieandnell.com

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