Head to the bathroom during your meal at Bathhouse, and there’s a good chance people will be standing around butt-ass-naked. On the way back to the dining room, you may pass employees wearing black overalls and rubber gloves. And once you settle back into your chair, the table next to you may have been filled by a group of suspiciously happy people wearing identical beige linen robes.
Before you email Ronan Farrow or jump into the Mystery Machine, know that you don’t have the scoop on a new cult in Williamsburg. As the name suggests, this is just a bathhouse. And inside the giant spa, there’s a 40-seat restaurant with big windows, candlelit marble tables, and a small L-shaped bar. You could eat here independently of the spa, but the beef tartare just isn’t as exciting when there’s not a bath towel wrapped around your head.
This is some of the best food you can eat in a bathrobe. Despite the restorative ice plunge and guided stretching sessions a few feet away, the Eastern and Northern European dishes here aren’t light or healthy. The fried chicken skins are coated in farmer’s cheese, and the tender duck confit is served on a pretzel bun during the day, and alongside spaetzle at dinner. Thick stew with venison, wild boar sausage, and savory bread pudding would be ideal during a snowstorm in the mountains, but it also happens to be delicious after lounging in a tropical-themed sauna in a Williamsburg basement.
And that’s exactly when you should eat here - holding a glass of Champagne in a robe after a 90-minute massage. But if you come in off the street and sit at a candlelit table like it’s any other restaurant, you’ll feel like an outsider. You’ll notice every waft of chlorine-scented air, and when your server asks if you’re pre- or post-spa, you’ll chug your drink so you’re not the only one here without flushed cheeks.
Come to Bathhouse with a group or the person who takes up the other half of your bed, and spend the day soaking in thermal pools or doing absolutely nothing in sensory deprivation tanks downstairs. Then, head to the restaurant. By the time you finish your oysters and wine, you’ll be one of those suspiciously happy people in a beige linen robe.
Bone broth should always be on your table here. The lunch version with roasted mushrooms and dinner one with duck egg are both light, but hearty enough to be served in a medieval banquet hall full of people drinking flagons of mead.
Fried Chicken Skins
Each sheet of these chicken skins tastes like a whole bird that wandered in front of a steamroller. But the farmer’s cheese takes away from the crunchy texture without adding much flavor, and there’s not enough roe to make a difference. Skip this.
Roasted Celery Root
If meat and potatoes got a job working for Miranda Priestly, it’d transform into this dish in no time. The disc of juicy celery root is served with celery root puree and mushroom jus. It’s listed as an entree, but we recommend ordering it as a starter to share.
The tender, very finely chopped meat is mild, and most of the flavor comes from the shaved horseradish on top. Order it, and ask for extra crunchy buttered bread that comes on the side.
As the name suggests, this thick stew would be great after a long day accumulating pelts, but you’ll also want it post-hot tub wearing spa slippers. Along with some intensely flavored venison and wild boar sausage, it comes with savory bread pudding you should soak in the meaty broth. This is the best dish here.
Duck confit is the Jennifer Lawrence of the menu here. It’s just as comfortable hanging out with a beer during the day as it is being the center of attention at night. But whether it’s served as a sandwich on a pretzel bun or as a whole leg with a side of spaetzle, the juicy, fall-apart meat makes it a must-order.
We’ve never advised anyone against eating chocolate mousse in a bathrobe, and we’re not going to start now.