The Reborn Chumleys Speakeasy Has a Burger Worthy of Hemingway

As I was growing up in New York, Chumleys had legendary status for me. The concealed, historic West Village bar was where my mothers began their relationship.( In fact, theyd met the night before at a party; but their chance session at Chumleys is what sealed the deal .)

When I got caught up in the lure of the restaurant world, I loved that the insider term to 86( to stop serving someone ), was allegedly devised there. Legend has it that, during Prohibition, clients would exit via the door at 86 Bedford St. when the cops were coming through the entryway on Barrow Street.

F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald: The wedding image hangs above their regular table at Chumley’s .
Photographer: Kate Krader/ Bloomberg

And then, there are the astounding literary illuminates who hung out there. Ill name only a few: William Faulkner, Ring Lardner, John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway, Edna St. Vincent Millay, F. Scott Fitzgerald.

But some places dont age well, especially when they hit their eighties. At some point, Chumleys, which opened in 1922, became a place where patrons peed outside in the courtyard and got into late-night , noisy fights( in front of multimillion dollar Village townhouses ). There was a lot of Budweiser on tap and greasy pasta coming out of the kitchen. In 2007 a chimney breakdown shut it down, and everyone guessed the legendary bar was gone for good.

Enter Alessandro Borgognone, who owns Sushi Nakazawa around the corner. As the property appeared as if it were about to be lost, Borgognone scooped it up and embarked on a giant restoration to bring back the original, fabulous spirit of the place.

Once Chumley’s second entryway( and a de facto bathroom ), this courtyard is now privately owned .
Photographer: Kate Krader/ Bloomberg

Once again, the walls are lined with the book jackets of novelists who sat at the tables, and the walls are packed with the authors portraitsmore than 250 of them. Portraits of F. Scott and Zelda still hang about the nook that is known as the Fitzgeralds corner. But because the breakdown destroyed so much, Chumleys dining room has shrunk at least 10 percent, both in height and thicknes.( The upside is good air conditioning and better plumbing .) Former clients will note that steps no longer lead into the dining room. And the courtyard doorway, once one of the Puckish aspects of the place that induced going there so charming, is now permanently closed.( That also entails the now privately, owned courtyard, known as Pamela Court, won’t be used as a de facto bathroom .) Those days are definitely run, told Borgognone.

The biggest improvements at Chumleys can be found in the drinks and especially, on the menu. Once upon a time in the history of the joint, the food may have been good; toward the end, it was dismal. Now, South America-born chef Victoria Blamey has serious ambitions for the cook: she’s previously run at such notable New York places as Atera, Corton, and Upland.

Outstanding himachi crudo with house-smoked chipotles .
Photographer: Kate Krader/ Bloomberg

Her menu, which will be handwritten and changing daily, mixes American standards with elegant international flourishes. Her hamachi crudo is astonishing, rapidly cured and topped with dehydrated cherries, house-smoked chipotle chiles, and fish sauce dressing.

The salt-baked beet salad with smoked trout roe .
Photographer: Kate Krader/ Bloomberg

Salt-baked beets are garnished with beet puree flavored with port and starring anise, smoked trout roe and a flavor-packed dres of fried crushed garlic and sesame oil.( Both the crudo and the beets expense $17; Borgogone is forecast that checks will average $50.)

Theres also a snack of soft baked pretzel with remoulade sauce and a chicken in Cognac sauce, which sounds like a major throwback until you see that its served with pickled black cornet mushrooms and garlic oil.

The 30 -day-aged bone-out rib-eye( steak for two) comes with oven-roasted onions and Madeira jus.

The dessert menu will always include an ice cream sandwich; the first version is filled with raspberry ice cream.

Two four-ounce patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese … Chumley’s new and amazing 86 ‘d burger .
Photographer: Kate Krader/ Bloomberg

But the focus of the most attention is the high-rising burger. Attained with 50 percent dry-aged top round, the 86 ‘d Burger comprises two four-ounce beef patties that sandwich a small round of poached bone barrow studded with crispy shallots. It’s drizzled in Chumleys secret, barbecue-style sauce( one part of the secret is coffee) and topped with American cheese; it comes in at $25. I like fatty burgers, told Blamey, with a shrug. I asked her what other burgers she likes in the city, and she rattled off Corner Bistro’s, because the bar serves it late, Shake Shacks, because its so consistent, and the one Josh Capon serves at Lure Fishbar.

Could this be Chumley’s signature drink? The Chaplin induced with blended Scotch and maple syrup .
Photographer: Kate Krader/ Bloomberg

Its going to be hard not to eat at Chumleys. But surely, everyone will want to beverage; after all, the place started life as a speakeasy. Jessie Dure has stocked her bar with more than 90 types of whisky; among her specialty cocktails, all priced at $16, is the Chaplin induced with blended Scotch, fernet, maple syrup, and a chocolate ice cube made from cocoa nibs and coffee extract. Its perfect with Chumleys outrageous, messy, and very rich burger.

Chumley’s officially opens on Tuesday, Oct. 18.

The Menu

Here’s what’s on the opening night menu at Chumley’s. Subsequent versions will be handwritten every day.

Warren Cove Oysters $22 | Avocado mignonette, crispy garlic

Pretzel$ 9 | remoulade, herbs de mer

Country Terrine $18 | foie gras, hamhock, savoy cabbage, apple cider gastrique

Beef Tartare $19 | hazelnuts, confit tomato, Ombra

Forono Beets $17 | smoked trout roe, chili-garlic, cashew

Hamachi Crudo $17 | Chipotle, Bordeaux radish

Little Greens $14 | Catalunia vinaigrette, Asian pear, Arethusa Blue

86 d Burger $25 | Chumleys sauce, bone marrow, crispy shallots

Arctic Char $26 | Hubbard pumpkin, grenada chilli, shishito pepper

Crispy Chicken al Cognac $23 | Pickled black trumpet

Steak for Two( market price ) | Roasted onions, horseradish-turmeric vinaigrette, Madeira jus

Autumn Tarte $21 | Trumpet royale, matsutake, cauliflower, vadouvan

Vanilla Ice Cream $12 | Parsnip, pistachio, pine honey

Raspberry Ice Cream Sandwich $12

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