When I heard the news that Spotted Pig expat Nate Smith was popping up in my hood to open a new gastropub, I was excited and nervous at the same time. What if the deliciousness doesn’t translate across the bridge? Will locals and travelers alike find it tasty or pretentious? Fortunately, I can speak for both locals and travelers, and I think Allswell is delicious and humble.
The space sits right on the corner of North 10th and Bedford, which used to house Raymund’s, an old Polish diner. Now, it resembles an old grandma’s living room, complete with dark wood, candles, whiskey, and quirky wallpaper. I use the word quirky because I’m not sure if tacky is in the dictionary for Williamsburg…I’m pretty sure it’s been replaced with “avant-garde“. Either way, you’ll ignore the wallpaper when you start sipping one of their house-made tipples like the Merrywell, a blend of Overholt whiskey, lemon rind, and bitters. My friend Matt stuck to beer and chose a dark IPA that was pleasantly tasty. I forget the name…blame the whiskey.
“What is Cardoon Toast“? “How about purple yams with Winter Savory“? You will find yourself asking many questions like this at Allswell, because these gastropubs sure know how to confuse you. Cardoon toast, as it turns out, is toast (who knew?!) topped with a spinach, cheese and onion mixture reminiscent of spinach dip. It was good, but if you’re going to select something with toast at Allswell, do yourself a favor and make it the foie gras and honey toast. Rich, buttery foie spread on toast and drizzled with honey and black pepper is what I imagine happiness tastes like. It’s decadent, it’s delicious, it’s fat. Just take a bite and don’t look back. There are no regrets here. Allswell that ends well…
Sometimes when you have a fatty appetizer, you want to have a lot of meat as your entree to wash it down. No? Is that just me? I got the lamb with horseradish cream and colcannon (mashed potatoes and cabbage), Matt had the skirt steak with Jerusalem artichokes. Why Jerusalem artichokes? Not sure, but they are nothing like standard artichokes. They look kind of like ginger on the outside, but they’re similar to a potato in texture on the inside. These little root vegetable bites were a perfect, crispy side to the tender skirt steak.
The lamb was a more hearty dish, and if you scooped up too much horseradish at once you’d get that sting in your nostrils. I never do that. Both dishes could have been a little hotter, but they were still tasty as all hell.
Still wondering about those purple yams with winter savory?? Purple yams are basically how they sound, except I think they were out of purple yams, because these were not purple. The winter savory is a mix of herbs that you can find in winter. Errrr…what herbs can you not get in winter? Christmas tree pines? I was close actually, since I saw rosemary in the mix…and huge slivers of garlic. Love garlic. And now I love winter savory.
To kill all that garlic and horseradish breath, we split the lemon verbena semifreddo for dessert with chocolate cookie crumbs. This is a bit hard to describe, but it reminded me of the inside of an old school ice cream sandwich. That processed, white brick that sits between two chocolate sandwich cookies? Yea that. Similar in texture and size, but creamier, tastier and with absolutely zero freezerburn. A sweet treat and a palate cleanser all in one.
Needless to say, Allswell really does end well..
You knew that was coming.
124 Bedford Ave (at North 10th street)