The Waverly Inn. You’ve heard of it… like four years ago. You know the place that Vanity Fair Editor in Chief Graydon Carter opened, originally didn’t have a phone number to make a reservation and serves $55 truffled mac ‘n cheese? Well guess what, that mac ‘n cheese now ranks in at $65 or they have a $100 version if you’re up to it and now they are on Opentable and you can get in. I haven’t thought of this restaurant since I moved to the city four years ago when it was the only thing people were talking about. So when I was taken here last week, I had no expectations. I hadn’t looked at the menu or even knew what it really looked like inside. Upon arrival, I couldn’t figure out how to enter [awkard] and when I finally made it in, I felt like I was in a stranger’s home. There are so many rooms, and you are unsure where to go. The bar is great for an after work cocktail, and there are several business men who you can tell are often regulars.As you walk deeper into the dining room, the booths are crimson and intimate. It reminds me of Keith McNally’s Minetta Tavern, and it feels close and exclusive. Further back, you discover the gold which is the back garden room that is covered in vines and plants creeping up the wall with a skylight. It’s gorgeous, unique and you can’t help but think “what a hidden gem I love New York!” The tables are pretty close so you can get comfortable with your neighbors real quick.
The meal starts off with these amazing country biscuits and honey butter that you’ll want to slather all over the bread and maybe your face. Most of the high-end moguls and beautiful trendy people are seated in the room with the booths so don’t worry they won’t see you participating in this mischievous act. The prices might be higher than you fancy but the portions and amount of food placed in front of you are gargantuous- which is really surprising for a place like this. We obviously went for the laughable $65 Truffled Mac ‘n Cheese, and while I didn’t expect it to really be that good it was awesome! Forget the truffle accent and your waiter shaving several flakes of it before your eyes, the delicately placed breadcrumbs crumble in your mouth with each bite. The noodles are wide, soft and mixed with the cheese so that it is creamy and stringy all at the same time. I mean it’s a must-order, in a skillet, can serve four people happily and delicious. I got the Halibut Panzanella special. The fish was cooked exactly the way I like it. Just seasoned enough with probably only salt and pepper and so divine that it didn’t need much. The basil, tomato, spinach and croutons sitting below made for a great pairing. It could have fed two people, and then the steak is even more gigantic. It is topped with a giant shrimp that tasted like it was just off the boat. No need to order any of the sides. They aren’t too special and you’ll have enough. Just when I couldn’t eat anymore, we couldn’t say no to the Nectarine Crisp with a scoop of vanilla ice cream after it was staring at us from across the room. I love crisp. Definitely rhubarb or apple more than nectarine, but the crumble was legit.
I am so impressed by The Waverly Inn. With all of it’s hype as a sceney, it-place and without it’s original chef John Delucie (who moved on to open The Lion, Crown and Bill’s Gay Nineties), I really didn’t know what to expect and I was blown away and left so giddy and excited. It’s thrilling to have a chef wow you when you thought the food was going to be a joke (oops!). The staff is fun and I still can’t believe how much I loved everything and enjoyed myself. Gentleman, if you want to impress a lady take her here. Food lovers, if you want to indulge in this culinary experience, suggest it for your next business dinner and put it on the corporate card.