As a followup to his outstanding vegetarian restaurant Nix, Chef John Fraser has opened The Loyal, in what's being touted as an homage to the "American tavern." In practice, that looks to be gourmet comfort foods like pastas, chops and shareable snacks, with cocktails that riff on classics.

The restaurant will be rolling out a larger menu after the opening mania has quieted, but the limited opening menu has some tasty-sounding standouts. Fraser has done remarkable things with polenta, which will be flavored with broccoli, cheddar and truffles ($17) at this new spot. Shrimp Scampi ($22) appears to be a deconstructed version of the Italian classic, with garlicky shrimp served with a side of buttery pasta. We welcome any and all Parkerhouse Rolls ($8), too.

Where Nix eschewed animal protein entirely, The Loyal offers several seafood entrees like the scampi, an olive oil poached halibut and a spicy black bass dish. Their Pulp Fiction-inspired burger, Loyale With Cheese ($24), is a decadent affair made with Piedmontese beef and comte cheese with a side of duck fat-fried tater tots.

Servers wear matching uniforms, as they do at Nix, and the decor was designed by home studios, which has been behind some of NYC's most notable restaurant interiors including The Spaniard, Elsa, and Sisters.

289 Bleecker Street, (212) 488-5800;

The Loyal Opening Menu by Nell Casey on Scribd