TBar Steak & Lounge

TBar's Crispy Long Island Duck

Ooooh, boy.

TBar is a steakhouse on 3rd Avenue and 74th Street, and if that doesn’t tell you all you need to know—well, I guess I’m about to. First, though, I want to emphasize the lovely fact that TBar truly is nut-free, according to this email I received from them:

TBar is a completely nut-free restaurant and we are dilligent and serious about only ordering products that are clear from any nut cross contamination. Please feel free to reach out to us with any more questions if need be.

This applies to everything—their breads (baked in house), their desserts, and, of course, their meats.

TBar, then, joins the ranks of such wonderful establishments as The Donut Pub and A La Mode Shoppe—places that do collect information on their vendors’ facilities and that do identify themselves as “nut-free” (or close to it). I double-checked when I made my reservation, and the woman on the phone reassured me that the entire restaurant is nut-free, so in all, I felt pretty safe going into TBar.

Safe, yes. Happy? No. TBar is a strange, strange place—especially if you’re under 60. There’s a bizarre green motif throughout the restaurant—green glasses, green cushions, green…plush toys—and the entire restaurant is really brightly lit, to the point that it gives off a real diner-in-the-middle-of-the-day vibe. Oh, and it’s filled with bona fide elders, one of whom spent his entire meal attempting to hack up his right lung.

TBar's tables

I spent 35 minutes at TBar. (Yes, I was counting.) Topics of conversation I overheard in those 35 minutes included, but were not limited to: insulin injections, heart disease, Matzo, bad knees, bad hips, and the merits of steak cooked medium-well—and don’t even get me started on the bar scene. It isn’t even as if I was making any sort of effort to eavesdrop; the restaurant was just dead-quiet, aside from the occasional snippet of a conversation.

Suffice it to say that I found the atmosphere wholly unpleasant. But I wasn’t there for the atmosphere—I was there for duck. You see, the whole reason I’d even made my way to TBar in the first place was that I’d seen the Crispy Long Island Duck on their menu. I have an enormous soft spot for duck—and this particular serving was guaranteed to be nut-free, so I had no choice but to try it.

In any case, the duck itself was delicious: perfectly cooked, with tender meat and crispy skin. But it was served atop an intrusive bed of sweet potatoes, which were way too strong and sweet a flavor to accompany such a sweet preparation of duck. Personally, I hate sweet potatoes; I would’ve rather eaten the duck on its own, but that’s just me. Still, it was a good dish overall. And fortunately, at $38, it was enough food to feed two.

I’m not really in a position to speak to the overall quality of TBar’s food, as I’ve only tried one dish, but from what I can tell, it doesn’t seem like it’ll ever be the food itself that will sour a TBar experience—especially for those with nut allergies. Perhaps the freedom to order whatever one wants can outweigh the discomfort of…you know, being in that godforsaken place.

Perhaps. I suppose you’ll have to see for yourself. Find TBar at 1278 3rd Avenue, between 73rd and 74th. And don’t forget to dress your best—because their bar scene is happenin’.

[Note: I returned to TBar two months after publishing this post. I had the ribeye, and it was pretty damn good. I also plowed through two baskets of bread (which I didn’t know I could eat the first time I went)…so that was fun. The restaurant was dimly lit and jam-packed—the exact opposite of what it’d been the last time, except it was still filled with elders—and I sat outside, which (even on 3rd Avenue) was worlds better than the alternative. Service was good, yada yada yada, I’ll probably be back. The end.]

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