Just a little more than a week into business, so far Erbe Matte doesn't have a lot we can recommend from its dinner menu. Stopping in last week on the restaurant's invitation, we found the seafood jeon had no structure, the beef tartar carried ice-cold patches, and we felt a looming identity crisis as to whether the restaurant should go in a Korean or Italian direction, currently heading in both, in a lackluster fashion that brings little flair to either genre. But one thing is clear here, or rather beautifully rose-tinted.
Great Jones bartender Eric Tecosky crafted a wicked little cocktail list for Louis Kim's new restaurant, with Korean ginseng and green tea mixed into a house made limoncello, a bourbon libation with Asian pear and lavender bitters named for agent Ronnie Chasen, and even a tongue-in-cheek Korean boilermaker (a shot of soju with a can of Hite). Most alluring is a drink named "Beverly Farms," in which Tecosky employs his recipe of kimchi-infused Eristoff vodka in a mixture of spices and tomato juice, along with his own Dirty Sue-branded dirty martini olive juice.
Taken on its own, the kimchi-infused spirit is a gorgeous shade of dark rose and soundly embodies the slightly salty, slightly sour, earthy funk of kimchi while showcasing the spirit at its core. It's a step closer to that pickle juice vodka we've always dreamed of concocting, with the pickled profile prominent, but very far from retch-inducing. A clear and clever nod to Korean culture and cuisine, so far it is the most outstanding and defined testament to what a Korean-influenced European restaurant could eventually become. We'll give Erbe Matte some time to work out its kinks, but in the meantime, we can back Tecosky's contributions to the menu.