New York City’s newest triple threat restaurant
Pekarna NYC is New York’s latest edition in the restaurant business and is a bit of a triple threat. Not only does it modernize Slovenian food but it is also a high-end cocktail bar and an event space all in one. Pekarna is a massive, two story restaurant. The venue features a cocktail bar and restaurant on the first floor as well as a private lower-level banquet room and a huge outdoor backyard space. On the lower level is a banquet area which specializes in hosting any type of event you can think of. And we are here to tell you that Pekarna is definitely one of the up-and-coming restaurants that will become your go-to when it comes to a night out.
To start off, we have to address the cocktail menu. Pekarna has taken an approach to not use any high sugar juices or drinks in their cocktails and instead use various liqueurs to mix their drink. This allows each cocktail to have a smooth feel to it and having all flavors equally dispersed with each sip. And if that didn’t sell you, it also means that each drink has more alcohol in it so you know you are getting a lot of bang for your buck. To add, the cocktail menu is extensive, ensuring that no matter who you are with, they will have something they are sure to like. To start, we tried the Empress French 75. This drink is made with Empress 1908 Purple Gin, fresh lemon juice, and GH Mumm Grand Cordon Brut Champagne. This was a fairly simple and straightforward cocktail and is perfect for those that like very clean and crisp flavors in their drink. The lemon juice adds a brightness and a bit of acidity to the drink which is perfect for the dryness of the gin. And the addition of the brut champagne gives a slight hint of sweetness along with the freshness that comes with a typical champagne drink. The flavors itself were crisp and was refreshing to the point where our palettes didn’t get tired or overwhelmed by the drink.
We also tried another drink called Alma’s Field of Dreams, which is actually named after Pekarna’s pastry chef named Alma. This drink is made with gin, muddled strawberries, garden party basil cane syrup, and topped with club soda. This drink is definitely for those who like a bit of sweetness in their drink. The drink has a beautiful aroma of strawberry coming from it. The first sip was delightfully sweet with bursts of strawberry notes in it that then transition into a subtle basil flavor that reinvigorates your palette. Each sip was smooth and had almost a buttery feel to it which made for a wonderful sip each time. Moving onto food, Pekarna has a variety of classic dishes that everyone likes such as smoked wings and fried brussel sprouts. But what makes Pekarna truly unique is their Slovenian-inspired foods such as their delicious crispy wild boar with rice. We decided we wanted to try a bit of the familiar and the unique in this meal that way we can get a feel for the range of flavors that Pekarna has with their dishes. To start with tried the fried brussel sprouts which is served with a sweet chili sauce on the side. These brussel sprouts were delicious, having a crispy and crunchy exterior without being overcooked or burnt. There was a beautiful char taste to them as well. And pairing it with the sweet chili sauce was a wonderful accompaniment to the dish where the chili sauce added a subtle heat that eventually finished off into a mild sweetness that helped cool down your palette. We also tried the Crispy wild boar with rice which was paired with a mustard and sweet chili sauce on the side. The way that this dish came was in the form of six fried rice balls and the style reminded me of the Italian dish known as arancini. The balls were fried beautifully, having a golden crisp exterior. And when you broke open one, you could see the glistening rice and boar inside. The rice was executed well and has a nice crisp texture to it. The boar was cooked perfectly and was moist as well. What really stood out was how the boar wasn’t gamey at all which is what people typically expect when eating foods like boar. There was a wonderful savoriness to the dish and when paired with the sweet chili sauce it gave an added bit of heat and sweetness to it.
If we had to pick one of the main course dishes to pick from, we would definitely recommend the pan-seared salmon. The salmon is a crispy skin salmon accompanied with roasted fingerling potatoes, corn pepper succotash, and a lemon dill beurre blanc. When the salmon arrived to our table, the fish was glistening and the skin looked crisp. Visually, the dish looked amazing with how it was plated and with the variety of bright colors in the dish. First cutting into the salmon, we could immediately tell that the skin was crispy and that the salmon was cooked a beautiful medium rare. Taking the first bite, we first get the nice crunch from the skin and a subtle saltiness to the fish which enhances the salmon’s nature flavors. The additional pairing of the corn and pepper succotash added a wonderful sweetness to the dish that finishes with a subtle smokiness from the peppers. The potatoes were also cooked perfectly, having a smooth tender interior without being dry inside, and added a wonderful meatiness to the dish.
For dessert, we decided to go with the Kremsnita Cake, otherwise known as a Slovenian Bled cake. This dessert is made with layered puff pastry with vanilla custard in between and topped with seasonal berries and a passionfruit glaze. The puff pastry in this dish was thin, and pairing it with the vanilla custard have a delicate feel and texture to the dish. The vanilla custard itself had a very prominent vanilla flavor to it that kept giving the dessert a burst of flavor with each bite. If I had to make a comparison, this reminds me of a classic mille crepe cake which is made up of thin crepes that are layered on top of each other with a light cream in the middle. But what sets this dessert atop from the mille crepe is that the initial texture of the dessert is actually quite crisp and flakey. But, as soon as you put it in your mouth, that crisp texture immediately melts in your mouth and envelopes your palette with a cool vanilla flavor. The added berries on top give additional sweetness as well as a bit of tartness which helps balance out the sweetness from the custard.
Our final thoughts on Pekarna is that this restaurant is truly more than meets the eye. The exterior of the restaurant seems quaint and simple. But, as soon as you enter you are met with a luxurious and modern interior. And the variety of dining spaces that Pekarna holds means that it can fit any type of occasion you might have from a simple dinner date all the way to a huge birthday bash you want to throw. The food is simply delicious and is a genius way of modernizing traditional Slovenian food. And the cocktail menu is a cut above the rest, not only have a variety of drinks but also having each cocktail carefully thought out.