69 Gansevoort Street
New York, NY 10014
(212) 691-0069

Most of the businesses in the Meatpacking District, from the cafes to the clubs to the boutiques to the $750-an-hour escorts, exist for one reason and one reason only: to separate the wealthy from their money. And while this is noble endeavor if ever there was one, I don’t really fit that demographic. Thus, the demise of Florent last year was met by much lament by New Yorkers. It was one of the only places in the Meatpacking District that wasn’t a grossly overpriced way of giving your wallet a yogurt enema.

Florent was a French bistro set in a grungy 1970s diner. It was cheap, it was good, it was open 24-hours a day, it was packed. If I was under the impression that Gansevoort 69 was supposed to be an Americanized version of Florent, then I was clearly wrong. I got there early and upon walking in I was immediately surprised by how deserted it was. I nursed a $7(!) Bud Light and waited until the rest of the team showed up. So far, it was neither crowded nor cheap. But at least it’ll be good, right? Right? Right?... Ummm… well… Hmmm…

I was supposed to meet Pike, his girlfriend Brice, and Brice’s perfect-in-every-way-so-naturally-she-lives-1000-miles-away friend for dinner and drinks. When they showed up, we were given a table, a few menu’s, an annoying waiter who managed to interrupt our conversation more often than not, and a cute little cup of Ore-Ida style tater tots.

Gansevoort 69 is not a new Florent. It is, instead, the Meatpacking District’s answer to Cafeteria, Eatery, Egg, and the city’s new wave of American-comfort-food restaurants. Traditionally un-cool dishes served in a cool setting by cool people alongside cool drinks in cool neighborhoods. Food that feels as if it were inspired by the Rachael Ray magazine, but Rachael's got a nipple-ring and a badass tattoo on her on her right ass cheek.

Brice ordered the Fish and Chips, which the entire table agreed were just plain bad. It actually must have taken extra effort to make something this tasteless and bland. Pike chose the Meatloaf, which looked pretty good, wrapped in bacon and coming with a side of vegetables and mashed potatoes. But without the bacon, he might as well have dug his fork into a sirloin drink coaster. We were not off to a good start. Perfect went more mainstream with a G69 Burger with Cheddar. Everyone concurred that if we were having a contest for best choice, she won. They cooked it the way she liked, medium-well, without letting it get dried out. I ordered, to quote Mr. Annoying, the “pimped out” version of their fontina and cheddar baked Macaroni and Cheese. But I can’t blame Mr. Annoying for the term, much as I might wish I could. It was actually listed as “mac & cheese pimp” on the receipt. Should I laugh or cry at this new "official" vocab? Hmmm… I choose cry. Cry and get spinners for my car. Anyway, the pimped version comes with bacon, baby peas and shallots. And you know what? It grew on me. At first I thought it was okay, then I thought, nah, this is mediocre crap. But then I thought, hey this actually isn't too bad! I might get this again! One little note, the burger and the fish and chips dishes both came with French Fries and whoever made these deserves a commendation. That they were the best part of the meal.

Although we all tried a little of everything, we had our preferences. So for dessert, Pike and Brice ordered the S’Mores, five little paddles of very sweet, very soft graham crackers with a cube of seared marshmallow and a dish of rich chocolate to dip them in. Though Brice and Pike weren’t terribly thrilled with it, I was actually pleasantly surprised. Meanwhile, Perfect and I decided to split the Apple Pan Dowdy, an apple crumble. Gansevoort 69 offers it topped either with vanilla ice cream or melted cheddar cheese. We got it half and half. It wasn’t bad, per se, but it wasn’t memorable and I certainly can’t picture making the cheddar option a permanent staple of toppings for any desserts in the future.

So what’s my final thought? Well, given the cost-to-taste ratio, I can’t really fork out too much praise. There were a few hits, but they were overshadowed by the misses. I can get the same food, better and cheaper, two avenues east, over in Chelsea.

Four entrees, two desserts, two coffees, six drinks, tax and tip clocked in at $200 even. (The server who filled our water glasses was great. Give this guy a raise.)

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