Red Hook Tavern Restaurant Review

New York City College of Technology

Department of Hospitality Management

Janet Lefler Dining Room



To: Prof. Abreu, Director of Service

From: Carla Bowens, Student

Date:  October 6, 2019

Re:  Red Hook Tavern Restaurant Review

After  the few last weeks of reading Pete Wells wax poetic about artfully plated Peruvian entrees and complex Asian flavor development,  I was pleased to learn that he also has an appreciation for a well crafted All-American burger. The burger at Red Hook Tavern is of’course, not just a regular burger.  It is defined as a “pub burger”.  The decor and most of the menu at Red Hook Tavern is steeped in historical significance and conjures memories of Old New York.  The vintage light fixtures and tin tile ceiling evoke a speakeasy of the early 1900’s. Great care and research went into the planning of this establishment that opened this past Spring.  In the name of research, Owner Billy Durney traveled to many of the great BBQ cities of America before discovering his own style in the form of his first restaurant Hometown BBQ.

I have  had the good fortune to enjoy this style of burger at P.D. Clarke’s which is located across the street from Lincoln Center.   This was just the beginning of a wonderful  afternoon that ended with tickets to a performance of Swan Lake at the American Ballet Theater.  I gasped when Misty Copeland first appeared on stage.  There is a similar delight in biting into a perfectly executed burger.

Wells considers the Tavern burger one of the “mandatory burgers in New York City”.   Durney  patterns this simple burger that lacks all the “fixings” after a similar offering at Peter Luger Steakhouse.  Of the two, Wells considers Peter Luger’s version  more nostalgic than delicious and prefers the Tavern Burger.

I would be pleased to visit Red Hook Tavern to sample the ham and cheddar croquettes followed by the wedge salad which is not a wedge and then the Tavern burger cooked to a perfect medium.  I agree with Wells that nduja doesn’t seem to work with the rest of menu but fried chicken certainly does.  I can’t help but be curious about whether fried chicken will ever appear on the menu.   Perhaps Durney will save fried chicken for his next venture.  We will just have to wait and see.

“Providing Over 70 Years of Quality Service to the Hospitality Industry”

Setting the Table, Chapter 2 “In Business”

Topic: Know Yourself, Take Notes, Be Smart

Chapter 2 of Setting the Table, “In Business” chronicles Danny Meyer’s first job in the restaurant business to the opening night of Union Square Café.

  • First job:  1984, at age 26, Asst. Day Manager at Pesca on 22nd St, worked FOH for lunch,  dinner worked in the kitchen
  • Meets future wife Audrey on his first day of work
  • After 8 months, arrangements are made for him to study cooking in France and Italy for 3 1/2 months as a chef’s apprentice.

Meyer kept a journal to record all of his dining & service experiences, ideas & sketches for the restaurant he wanted to open.  After eating and cooking through several European cities, Meyers had stacks of notes of about all of his experiences.  He returned home with strong ideas, a few great recipes and opinions about how guests should feel and be treated.  He always noted how an establishment made him feel. This intangibility governs your experience and provides clues for how you want your guests to feel.

As students, it is important for us to learn everything that we can from everyone that we can.  Keeping notes about potential careers ideas can keep us on track when it is time to seek out internships and later careers and entrepreneurial pursuits.  In each class that we take there is something learned that will assist us in the future.

Dining room students, like Meyer must always consider the guest perspective and treat guests the way that they wish to be treated.  Our class practice of Self Awareness could be a good exercise with other courses as we continue to pursue our degrees.  As we record our successes and mistakes we can remind ourselves about what is most important and stay on track with our career plans.

Be smart to avoid the mistakes that you can control.  When Meyer was looking for a location for his restaurant, he wanted the neighborhood to be up & coming.  This meant that the rent would be more affordable.  He would not have to charge customers more to cover high overhead expenses.  An area with a good lunch crowd would help cover fixed costs.  The main piece of advice that he still offers any prospective restaurant owner is to take a lease that is assignable to someone else if your business does not succeed.  He avoided the risky errors that his Dad made in business.  All these years later, Union Square Café is in no danger of giving up a lease.