The Other Knickerbocker

There were 18,696 restaurants registered in New York City in 2006, and it only seems like I visited every single one of them when I was there for a few days before Christmas. As mentioned before, like an Army, a Guru travels on his stomach, and my foraging for food began at about 8:30 a.m. every day when I hit the streets in search of coffee and muffins. Forgive me if I can't review every dining establishment, but I'm more about quality than quantity, and today I'm going to pay attention to just one, because it happens to be my new favorite eatery in New York.

It was called the Knickerbocker Bar & Grill, located in the Village on the corner of 9th and University Place (which is a block east of 5th Avenue). Al Hirschfeld drawings were on the walls, and a local crowd was there every night lighting into big steaks and chops, because the Knickerbocker is a meat-and-potatoes kind of place with some elegant touches. Unlike the dysfunctional Knicks who play uptown at Madison Square Garden, the Knickerbocker restaurant did just about everything right, beginning with my new favorite appetizer, called "caviar pie," that puts a round, molded lump of egg salad on the plate with a thick layer of black caviar and several slices of crusty bread.

Delicious. So was the wild boar cassoulet, the huge, rib-eye steaks and even the chocolate mousse. The wine list was reasonably priced, as was the tab, at least by New York standards, which means that I didn't faint when the bill came. I've just begun to make a dent in the Knickerbocker's menu, so this clearly calls for further research. And what about those other 18,695 restaurants? Well, if they don't serve caviar pie, I don't know how they can compete.