The Jazz Standard

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First Jazz Club & Restaurant to Achieve Critical Acclaim:
-The New York Times, Wednesday, April 15,1998
Dining In Restaurants-Ruth Reichl, 27 Standard-TwoStars**

Helping to Put Rose Hill on the Map
...Every New York neighborhood eventually has its moment of glory, and it seems Rose Hill's turn has finally come. No institution exemplifies the changes occurring in the neighborhood better than 27 Standard. Looking around, you instantly see why the owner chose to be there. Rose Hill offers the luxury of space, and the restaurant sprawls amiably; the ceilings are high, and there is distance between the tables. The owner, James Polsky, has capitalized on the location, too, creating a junction where uptown and downtown coexist comfortably. Few restaurants offer such an easy blend of casual ambiance and professional service.

It has taken some time for the food to fit the room, but after five months of fiddling it finally does. The chef, Mike Smith, has relaxed, and early affectations, like the butternut squash consommé he was serving in demitasse cups between courses, have disappeared. Mr. Smith worked at the Hudson River Club and the Rainbow Room, and his menu now reflects the best of modern American cooking: he is using good ingredients in interesting ways and serving them in generous proportions.

He has a particularly enticing way with vegetables. His pureed white bean soup, for instance, would be overwhelmed by the diced garlic sausage if not for the crisp shallots scattered on top. He cures salmon himself, which is not unusual, but he sets the slim buttery slices on chive-flecked pancakes, which is. His crisp, light crab cakes are animated by ginger and enlivened by slaw and roasted pepper sauce. Mr. Smith's salads are superb. Too bad he has retired the arugula and fingerling potato version he had on the winter menu. It was a real treat: the spiciness of the greens stood out against the buttery rounds of potatoes. This pairing was echoed by the sharpness of the vinaigrette against the luscious softness of Parmesan cheese.

The main courses show the same sort of imagination. Mr. Smith's style is to take a simple piece of meat or fish and coax the flavor from it by surrounding it with surprising vegetables. Steamed salmon, for instance, is served with radishes, ramps, mushrooms and a chive puree. A hefty chunk of tuna celebrates the fennel, figs and couscous with which it shares the plate. And although the large Black Angus sirloin is not the world's most wonderful steak, it arrives in such good company you hardly notice. It is bathed in a fine red wine sauce and served on a lively watercress and onion relish that would make anything taste marvelous. Crisply fried onions ride atop the steak and a plate of french fried potatoes is set on the side. Thickly cut, stacked like logs and dusted with garlic, they are irresistible. Thinner fries are offered on the lunch menu, as well as on the pared-down menu in the jazz club in the basement. Both menus also provide good burgers (the beef is far better than the tuna), puffy little pizzas and fine, large salads.

Desserts are the most ornate section of the menu. To my surprise I liked the goat's milk cheesecake best. Although it sounds silly, the gingersnap crust and blueberry chutney somehow bring the flavors together in an exciting way...

ATMOSPHERE: The huge, high ceiling space seems like a cross between a warehouse and an art gallery. It is warmed by natural light in the daytime, soft colors at night, live jazz much of the time.

SERVICE: Enthusiastic and professional.

SOUND LEVEL: It looks as if it could he clamorous, but the acoustics are good enough so that you can hear the live jazz.

RECOMMENDED DISHES: Ginger crab cakes; soup; salad; spiced yelIowfin tuna with fennel and figs; grilled chicken breast; steamed salmon with radishes, ramps, mushrooms and chive puree; steak with water-cress and onion relish and garlic fries; burgers; goat's milk cheesecake; lemon semifreddo.

WINE LIST: Small and well chosen, with some unusual wines at reasonable prices.

HOURS: Lunch and dinner, Monday through Friday, noon to 10:30pm
Dinner on Saturday, 6pm to 11pm, closed Sunday.

PRICE RANGE: Lunch appetizers, $5.50 to $8; main courses, $9 to $16;
three-course prix fixe lunch, $19.66. Dinner appetizers, $6.50 to $9.50;
main courses, $16 to $27;
desserts, $7.
CREDIT CARDS: All major cards.

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bands are subject to change