City Pulse

By Candice Sabatini

In my neighborhood of Chelsea, there’s no lack of precious, trendy and pricey places to eat and drink. I can eat my way around world cuisines while still being able to actually see my apt window. But sometimes, all I want to do is wear my old jeans – not the hot, trendy ones – and chow down on great food that’s not precious, overpriced, or frou frou.

Celebrating their 10th Anniversary, proving they must be doing something right, The Half King Bar and Restaurant serves terrific pub grub that’s many steps above typical pub fare. Sure there are burgers of beef, turkey and vegetables, but also kobe, buffalo and crab. The sweet potato fries are the best I’ve ever eaten, I swear – super crunchy outside and meltingly sweet inside. My turkey pot pie was dee-lish. Made with big chunks of white meat turkey and fresh veggies covered by a perfect pastry crust, it was too large for me to finish, even with my tablemates doing their best to help.

Manager Mike told me that they get a lot of big eaters dining there who’ve come to expect these manly men sized portions. I noticed orders of grilled salmon, pasta and fish ‘n chips which proved that point. Chef Gregory Baumel is all about fresh and takes pride in what his kitchen sends out. My salad of shaved fennel, arugula, and grapefruit sections with sweet toasted walnuts was fresh, delicious and huge. For dessert, our table shared chocolate and banana bread pudding along with a chocolate brownie that was served with a scoop of vanilla gelato. Whipped cream and sliced strawberries dressed the plates just like in the fancy-shmancy places.

Along with a nice selection of wines and beers, the bartender has come up with some interesting cocktails. I loved the ginger French martini, while others at my table enjoyed a hot toddy style drink called Apple Pie which was perfect for a cold winter’s night. The place draws an interesting and diverse crowd due to its location near the Chelsea Piers, the art galleries, and Chelsea in general. The guy or girl sitting next to you at the bar might be a playwright, an actor, a future Olympian, or an artist who’s just opened a show around the corner. They host literary readings a few nights a month, and photos and paintings created by local artists adorn the walls.

The Half King has a main room with a 30 foot bar, a side dining room, a back room, a small back yard which is heated in the winter. The place was constructed from 200 year old wood found in a Pennsylvania barn and has a homey, comfortable feel. It’s the kind of place you’ll want to visit over and over again. Open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and very late night snacks.

The Half King
505 East 23rd Street
NY, NY 10011
http://www.thehalfking.com

Originally published January 2011
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