Executive summary, food is great, everything that was good still is, and lots of things have been improved.
Walked in around 9:00, place looked full but there were a couple of seats at the bar. Look and feel is very much the same. The bartender told me that the remodeling / restoration was more extensive than it looks. The only differences I noticed were that there are no longer glass panels between the booths, there’s more room behind the bar, and bar is no longer brightly lit. Service was smooth, surprisingly so for a place on its second service, probably helps that many of the old employees are still there.
My appetizer of charred sardines with butter beans, braised greens, fennel, and croutons ($15) was a good portion for the price, would have been plenty for two to share. Delicious, reminded me of Plum (where I was a pretty regular customer while Charlie Parker was the chef).
“Alfred’s Cut” bone-in 28-ounce rib-eye ($65, plenty for two, I took half home, the photo is minus a few bites) was medium-rare as ordered, nice sear, beefy, juicy, and properly seasoned, pretty much my ideal. I always thought it was bizarre that the old place did not season the meat, that’s just wrong. Creamed spinach with bacon ($9, that’s about half of it on the plate in the photo) was a huge improvement over the old version, which was made properly but bland (one of my friends brought his own nutmeg and grater to correct that).
The wine list is much longer and more diverse. Some great old Bordeauxs for those on expense accounts, some reasonable old Riojas. Nice choices by the glass.
I had a Last Word for dessert since it was on the menu and that’s my favorite cocktail. Excellent version. Washed that down with a barrel-aged house Manhattan, which is exactly the same as they serve at Plum.
Overall, they’ve done a great job. Alfred’s 2.0 is everything that Tosca 2.0 is not.