For the one person who might be heartbroken over East Village dive sports bar Nice Guy Eddie's being replaced by an atavistic gastropub, well, condolences. The space has been totally gutted and turned into an exposed brick barstaurant called Boulton & Watt, taking its name from the manufacturers of the steam engine (Matthew Boulton and James Watt). The design theme nods to the Industrial Revolution, which you'll probably pick up on as soon as you see the hostess standing under a miniature wall-mounted faux steam engine (it's powered by electricity) that keeps the ceiling fans spinning via long rubber belts.
The spacious new venture is a collaboration between Darin Rubell (GalleryBar, Ella and 983) and Chef David Rotter (983 and formerly of Norwood), who has created a menu of upscale pub grub and house-made snacks like pickled pineapple with habenaro, mint and basil. It sounds weird but somehow it works—at a press preview last week they also sent out some pickled Brussels sprouts with garlic and dill, which we'd also recommend. But the highlight was the Blackened Brick Chicken: crispy skin, juicy meat, mashed potatoes with brussel sprouts and bacon flecks—heavy duty stick-to-your-ribs food necessary to handle a 32 oz. beer.
Yes, the beers. They come in three sizes: 14 oz. ($8), 32 oz. ($15), and 64 oz. ($29). Obviously the larger portions are meant to be shared, but who are we to judge? The specialty cocktails are $12 and include such options as The First Word (Rittenhouse Rye Whiskey, Yellow Chartreuse, Benedictine and lemon), Lady Ashley ( Applejack Brandy, lemon, honey, Grenadine, egg white, ginger beer) and Bloody Boulton (the traditional Bloody Mary with a little sweet barbecue twist).
The vibe is sort of steampunk minus the punk—call it steamprep? The joint's got flat screen TVs for important game nights, but they're discreetly hidden behind reclaimed lead doors. We can see it being a pleasant place to meet the bros once the weather turns warm; those giant windows all flip open halfway to bring in the, um, fresh air off Houston Street.
5 Avenue A (at Houston Street) // (646) 490-6004