There’s nothing irreparably wrong with Chef Ignacio Matos’ corner bar, who was followed by highly regarded Estella and Lodi in June. That the bathrooms are in the basement is annoying but it is not uncommon in hotels and restaurants nearby. And that it was particularly difficult to book a reservation at peak time, even in these continuous years of difficulty booking reservations, is a bit baffling, especially with the benefit of hindsight given how regular the place is. All that aside, Corner Bar is fine with the hilarious way a 1940s movie star would have refined its meaning from vague indictment to approval. You will do well.
The inviting dining room, barely divided in two by an archway, has high ceilings, a beautiful bar, wood finishes, glossy white tiles and café-bistro curtains. It seats 68 and the tables are arranged just enough to limit gossip, but not so much as to require excessive blinking. Its menu aims to present genre classics.
To start, Prince Edward Island Lucky Lime oysters ($29/half dozen) are served as enticingly as expected. Put ice in a tray and lift it up a bit, and even this entry-level one Seafood tower gets me every time. And these medium-sized bivalves will still do well even close to the ground. The foie gras duck terrine ($34) is also nice, rich and buttery as hoped and even served with a fun, shiny Riesling jelly and half a caramelized apple. Its accompanying brioche points are thick and, while not an odd pairing, slightly sweet and a little greasy to allow the foie gras to dazzle.
With the exception of the $62 straw-roasted chicken, which comes with a green salad, the appetizers are all on their own. moules ($38) and fruitless steak. Atlantic Halibut ($44) Just swim with Hollandaise.
Reunited with their skirt-correct au Poivre or bivalve friends, the French fries ($13) are just as good; One of the things Corner Bar does better. They are golden in color, crisp on the outside, soft on the inside and designed to absorb liquids. The extra-fat steak has plenty of it, appropriately pungent and made with telltale peppercorns, but is almost comically, then uncomfortable, in quantity, and grows a bit over the course of a few bites. Like a foie gras, it’s vitriol and loss that obscures a hard-to-find medium-rare setting (perfected here with a blush to prove it) rather than enhancing it. Uncooked, its texture is impeccable, its deep grass-fed beef flavor is plentiful and its successful degree of doneness is a marvel. I wouldn’t drain it completely, but maybe ask for less sauce than usual.
A couple promising pastas are among the main dishes, including the frequent lobster tagliatelle special ($38 for the appetizer size, which contains 2.5 ounces of lobster; $52 for the main size, with three ounces). Once again, the long, house-made strips are finished to perfect doneness with a slight springiness, but their coating of bright red sauce skews suspiciously noticeably and the lobster is cooked to legal limit before the rubbery charges begin.
The nook of the bar should be a proper middle of the road spot as an easy-going and classy-than-anywhere every night and bar where drinks can turn into dinner. But it’s still a bewilderingly tough table and priced more like a special occasion destination. Crowds will decrease, but unexpected prices will drop here or elsewhere in the city. Divergence can be divided by flattening everything that makes him sing in a good voice rather than in a good low register, but historically that’s been a bit more likely. Until it seems more like an overachieving entry point than a student celebrating underperformance, it’s not worth getting out of the way.
The vibe: Bistro movie with attractive lighting.
the food: Nice raw bar items, excellent duck foie gras, good but overdone steak, promising pasta.
Drinks: Slow arrival cocktails, beers, a very long wine list, and non-alcoholic drinks.
The Corner Bar is located at 60 Canal Street. It is open for dinner Monday-Wednesday 5:30 PM-10:30 PM, Thursday-Saturday 5:30 PM-11 PM and Sunday 5:30 PM-10 PM.