Ronnybrook Milk Bar
Call it, not haute barnyard, but wholesome barnyard food... what the farmer's wife would have served her hungry field workers in some never-existent idyll, and entirely fitting for a company whose signature product is, after all, milk.
Bo, Co and I answered the clang of Ma's triangle yesterday and went to the Chelsea Market for a farmhand's feast at the new Ronnybrook Milk Bar. And while the overall experience was a bit mixed—loved the decor and desserts; loved the lunch a good deal less—the large menu of savories and sweets will definitely have us coming back for more.
What impressed us most about the interior is how they resisted the cliché "general store" look (think Good Enough to Eat on the Upper West Side, or Grey Dog in the Village) and instead nicely combined the rustic and rough-hewn with a contemporary cleverness (the hidden door in the back, the milk-crate walls with embedded refrigerators, the milk-bottle glasses) as well as a sleek island kitchen and wrap-around counter.
As for the food, the best savory dish we ordered was a Golden Beet Salad, which came with fennel, radishes and some first-rate Sprout Creek goat cheese. It was all very bright and refreshing, and the proportions within the salad were heavy with goodies, but you should know that this $7.50 plate is very much a side dish. Also good—juicy and full-flavored—was Bo's Berkshire County Ham and Gruyere on Pressed Rye, a solid entry into the grilled cheese genre.
Less successful was my Free Range Roast Chicken Sandwich, with Grafton cheddar, avocado and bacon: far too dry, and, especially considering all the ingredients, sadly flavorless. Co's Baked Country Mac and 3 Cheeses was even more dry and bland... so much so that she couldn't even bring herself to finish the small crock.
But if the meal was inconsistent (and, I must say, overpriced) the desserts sent us out the door with a sugar-induced stagger and a smile. They were out of Doughnut Bowls in which to serve their ice cream, so Bo went for the Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich, opting for a huge scoop of lively mint chocolate chip between two sweet and crunchy chocolate chip cookies. This was excellent, easily split-able (had we been so inclined) and, at $3, a real sweet-treat bargain.
I had a Sundae, hot fudge over two scoops of coconut ice cream with a generous dollop of thick, homemade cream.... all of which made for a total sugar bomb, and a ridiculous, though admittedly delicious, thing to eat at 1:30 in the afternoon. The biggest dessert winner was Co's vanilla and strawberry shake, light and fresh and frothy with a wonderfully intense berryness at its core.
Ronnybrook Milk Bar is located within the Chelsea Market, which has entrances on both Ninth and Tenth Avenues, between 15th and 16th Streets. Hours are 8:30am to 7pm during the week; 10:00 to 6:00 on Saturday and Sunday. We were disappointed to discover that they stop serving their egg dishes (read: breakfast) at 11:45 on weekdays.