Come 6:30 p.m., almost every bar seat was full at the spacious new Tribeca restaurant Distilled, and by 7, groups nursed cocktails as they stood around and chatted, one eye out for signs of movement that would allow them to pounce on vacated stools. That energy bleeds into the high-ceilinged dining room, though distinct separation between the bar area and the rest of the restaurant means dinner here can be a more intimate affair. Chef Shane Lyons, a Momofuku Noodle Bar alum, and partner Nick Iovacchini pay homage to old-school American public houses with their new joint, and to further facilitate casual, comfortable socialization, they kept their landmarked space at 211 West Broadway open, choosing not to enclose the kitchen while adding a chef’s counter and raw bar to allow more interaction between the guests and the back of the house.
Lyons composed a menu of comfort food rooted in American classics but global in ingredient and flavor combinations. See, for example, the glazed pork ribs that come with a pickled watermelon rind salad, or the roasted cauliflower coated in shiro miso. There’s also a burger as well as beer-battered onion rings.
The pair enlisted Benjamin Wood and Sheldon Wiley, who holds a Guinness world record for his speed behind the bar, to create the drink list; they unveiled a cocktail menu that encompasses both classics and seasonal sippers (rhubarb, apricot, and trendy banana all make the list) balanced by a New World-leaning wine list from wine director Kristie Petrullo, an all-American beer collection, and a robust round-up of meads.
A first taste:
A serving of popcorn dusted with cumin, brewer’s yeast, and garlic accompanies drinks to the table.
“I wanted to make vegan dishes that people didn’t necessarily know were vegan,” Lyons explained of this dish. Cauliflower and sugar snap peas come doused in shiro miso, which has a deceptively cheese-like flavor, then finished with crunchy pumpkin seeds.
Cited by our server as the most popular dish on the menu so far, the wings are encased in a crackly shell and glazed with a sauce that’s equal parts sweet and spicy. They’re sided with a cup of Point Reyes blue cheese dressing, an upmarket take on hot wings’ usual accompaniment.
Lyons delivered this dish to our table, a large hunk of crispy crispy duck breast on top of a waffle done like french toast (i.e., dipped in egg and griddled). He made a point to drizzle the smoked serrano syrup over the dish and instruct us to eat basil with each bite to cleanse the palate.
This tart and smoky cocktail, the sueño vida, is a blend of chipotle honey, Del Maguey Vida mezcal, and lemon.
The derby shrub is the spot’s take on a mint julep, per our server. The drink mixes mint, apricot shrub, and chamomile rye over crushed ice to an intense sweet-tart result.