>> 9/19/09

111 Reade Street
New York, NY 10013
(212) 240-9189

Food and drink. The two go hand in hand. Like like movies and popcorn, Betty and Veronica, Sgt. Pepper and the White Album, it's almost a shame for one to be without the other. Cocktail lounges, though, even if they offer food, don't really use their kitchen much. White Star and Dutch Kills have no food at all. PDT just gets hot dogs from next door. Death & Company has a small plates menu, but on no occasion that I've been there have I ever actually seen people eating. Rye is a full on restaurant, but in so doing, sadly backburnered the cocktail portion of their experience. Ward III, on the other hand, manages to mix the aforementioned food and drink ratio to perfection.

Stepping into Ward III, you quickly learn that this place, despite being tomb dark, is not designed for intimate conversation. It's loud. Loud music, loud people, touchy flirty waitresses. The menu is structured like the floor-plan. The cocktail list is smack on page one, just as the bar is the first thing you see when you walk in, and the food menu is actually hidden in the back behind a manila divider, just as the dining area is deep in the back along the exposed brick walls. Drinks are pricey at around $14 each, but the food is actually very reasonable with nothing breaking $20.

When Bro and I strolled in, it was around nine, and there was no crowd. We were immediately seated at a table in the back, and tried to figure out how we should start getting our drink on. By the time we left, we had tried half of the cocktails on the menu. Ward III, by the way, also has a "bespoke" menu, where you can just point to a word describing the mood you want your drink's aura to convey, but I didn't bother with that and decided I wanted my buzz to begin with Ward III's signature cocktail, the aptly-named Ward III, a concoction of Makers Mark, strawberries, lime juice, bitters, egg white and nutmeg. Very good, albeit dry thanks to the nutmeg. Fruity and Sweet and frothy. Bro's beginning round was the Tortuga. The name conjures up images of swashbuckling pirates swigging down grog, but this drink, made from rum, ginger, cinnamon and muddled lemon, lime and orange, was more like something one would drink on their patio as a crisp wind blew and the trees around them turned from green to orange. Sweet, but also a dry drink. Ward III likes leaving your mouth pasty. We drank a lot of water last night.

Round two (pictured below) for me was the Sweeter Heater, tequila, white pepper, lime juice, basil and hot sauce. The very spicy and very sour tequila drink is definitely an acquired taste that Bro had yet to acquire. But I liked it. I liked how the drink opened up my nostrils. Again, the tequila notwithstanding, this is an autumn drink. Bro went for the Baby Eveline, vodka, lemon juice, crushed strawberry, bitters and champagne. It was sweet and chunky and not bad. I usually pass up strawberries for blackberries though. Round three were beer and then I topped off the evening with The Collective, which, I'll be honest, was my least-favorite drink of the night. Scotch, sweet vermouth, lemon juice, honey water and egg white, it was sour and irritated me for some reason. I wouldn't get this one again.

Between drinks, we did some eating too. Ward III kindasorta fancies itself Moroccan, but it's really just Moroccanesque. Moroccan themed. And they don't really try that hard to stay loyal to that theme. For example our first appetizer were the Boxty with Two Dips, which they describe as a "traditional Irish dish". Potato pancakes with a bleu cheese dip and a bourbon barbecue sauce dip. The dish was fine on its own and only mildly improved by the bleu cheese dip. Skip the barbecue sauce, which was far better on the duck sandwiches than as a cold dip. Up next were the Bacon-Wrapped Dates. And that's what they were. Four sweet dates wrapped in bacon which were, and I say this with all honesty, holy-shit amazing. For dinner, Bro ordered the Mini Pulled Duck Sandwiches, three duck and red onion po-boys with a side salad. These were tasty but the entree was a bit small overall. They should add a fourth. My entree was the Moroccan Chicken Pot Pie; chicken olives and raisins. Again, I'm willing to bet that this isn't a traditional dish served by grandmas across Rabat. But anyway, I like pot pies.

Our five drinks, two beers, two appetizers and two entrees cost $130 plus tax and tip.

Ward III on Urbanspoon


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