Minetta Tavern, New York

December 2022

We were only at this place for a short time because of wanting to get in line for a fabulous jazz concert a couple of blocks away at the Blue Note. But it’s a true to life old traditional Italian joint that would be worth your trouble if you are in that Washington Square neighbourhood.

We were among the crowd with reservations when it opened at 5 PM and were promptly seated at a nice table, the place was instantly full and bustling. Server was a delightful humorous relaxed young lady well acquainted with her job. The walls were covered with photographs of older members of the Minetta family with sports heroes and movie stars back to the 1950s. We had heard that the burgers are something special and indeed they are although there is a good selection of other main courses.

The wine list was impressive both for its extent and (quite shockingly) price: there were only two or three bottles under $100 and others that went way north from that. Anticipating having to do some drinking at the jazz club we stuck to one cocktail each, a delicious straight up negroni and  boulevardier.

We ordered the two burgers at $31 and $38 for the allegedly premium “black” one and split them crosswise to test the value. These were unusual with a range of doneness requested with the order and a patty almost half as thick as it was wide. We both had medium rare. It came in a toasted and buttered brioche bun, beautifully soft but that was it: no other condiments. We requested extra mayonnaise and got lots which we applied along with salt which we also requested. They were both beautifully rare and completely wonderful for what they were. There was by the way no difference between the ordinary had the premium one. The accompanying fries were thin, plentiful, perfectly cooked.

Sadly we had to leave to make our lineup at the jazz club so couldn’t stick around for any of the overpriced wine or other delights.

It has to be one of the best places to fill up if you’re trying to make a 6 o’clock door opening at the Blue Note (but you better get there sharp at five for dinner, finish up, and get in the lineup at the club before six if you can). This restaurant is worth the visit if you are nearby anyway. It might be  an idea to just drink cocktails or beer to avoid the expensive wine, but overall this is a classy enjoyable place for an informal meal.

Food 9.2 service 9.4 ambience 8.8 value 8.3 peace and quiet 7.1.

About John Sloan

John Sloan is a senior academic physician in the Department of Family Practice at the University of British Columbia, and has spent most of his 40 years' practice caring for the frail elderly in Vancouver. He is the author of "A Bitter Pill: How the Medical System is Failing the Elderly", published in 2009 by Greystone Books. His innovative primary care practice for the frail elderly has been adopted by Vancouver Coastal Health and is expanding. Dr. Sloan lectures throughout North America on care of the elderly.
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