Kenmare's Food Is Delicious. If Only More People Ate There.

by BILLY GRAY · May 12, 2010

Jay Cheshes delivers an early critical filing on Kenmare, the culinary love child of Beatrice Inn and Rose Bar. His conclusion: the food is very good, worth a three-out-of-five star restaurant review. But he concedes that a nightlife section write-up might be more apt, especially now that it's open 'til 4 am!

Here are the crib notes:

Kenmare is a Nightclub: "A night club masquerades as a restaurant" reads the article's headline. This despite Kenmare's assurances that any old schmo can make a reservation or stagger in from the street. As Cheshes puts it:

"If you believe that, I can hook you up with a Nigerian prince handing out cash on the Internet."

He also describes a fruitless phone call requesting a primetime table, met with the answer that 6:30 and 11 pm were the only times available. (He left out the bit about the maitre d's sinister chortle and an eyeroll visible through the phone line.) In fairness though, this rejection line is so standard among hyped up Manhattan restaurants sans nightclub connections that receptionists might as well tattoo it on their palm.

Plus, he gives the joint a break and says that...

...Kenmare is a Restaurant: Chef Joey Campanaro's Italian food is "worth some hoop-jumping." It's also relatively cheap and, in a shocking rebuke to the "thin is in" ethos of Beatrice types, comes in big portions. Not only that but "thoughtful, well-informed" waiters won't look right through you. Cheshes cites meatball sliders, cheddar-topped fries (mmmmmm), seared halibut and veal cutlet as standouts that even a bevy of "air-kissing scenesters [who] seemed like they’d be perfectly happy with disco snacks" might bite into.

On that note...

Kenmare is a Nightclub: Buried at the bottom of the review is the news that the subterranean bar at Kenmare recently secured a 4 am license, is staffed by "off-duty models" and only gets going around midnight. Sound familiar? Cheshes adds:

"The same eclectic mix of scruffy rockers, uptown celebutantes and insomniac lotharios who once prowled Sevigny’s Beatrice Inn [who] late night...migrate downstairs to the louche basement bar."

NIMBY gadflies--expect me to overuse this term--like Georgette Fleischer will be thrilled!

It seems like in the end, Kenmare is a successful hybrid, with Campanaro's food pleasing patrons who scoff at the cocaine-and-cigarette diet and the Paul Sevigny-Nur Khan dream team basement hosting the upmarket hipsters who patented it (but would never dream of indulging indoors, natch).

Good luck sampling either and coming up with your own verdict.

Photo via Jolie Ruben/TONY