The website for Tweed proclaims that the new restaurant is “much like it’s name.” To restaurateur Edward Bianchini’s credit, the experience is, as the website’s predicted manifestation of the fabric, one of “leisure and sophistication.” But consider what the unofficial uniform of British landed gentry is not: tweed is not sexy, sensual, exotic, avant garde, or particularly memorable. And neither is Tweed.
The skinny men with skinnier ties and well-tailored suits fit perfectly with the vaguely vintage British theme the name seems to indicate. The metal diner tables and bold colorful prints on the wall, however, did not. Granted, upstairs, the tables wore white tablecloths, but they were joined by a single wooden booth lined with bookcases. With the too loud music ranging from Arabian nights to disco renditions of Simon and Garfunkel (seriously) the atmosphere as a whole seemed misguided and disjoint.
The menu is equally incongruous. Appetizers run the gamut from chicken wings ($10) to hiramasa sashimi ($9) and entrees are neither bar food nor pan-Asian but rather classic American with perhaps a slight Italian influence, considering the appearance of dishes like veal escalope Milanese ($25). Despite the range, none of the options were particularly innovative, with a few notable exceptions.
Lack of conceptual ingenuity aside, the quality of the food at Tweed is superb. Chef David Cunningham clearly knows what he’s doing with everything from cheesesteak fritters ($9), which were so craveable I’m considering quitting school and making millions by inventing a microwaveable version that is equally crispy on the outside without even the slightest bit of greasiness, to seafood “salsa fredo” ($9), which was just a traditional ceviche but marinated to tender perfection. The main courses were equally well prepared. The herbed risotto with mushrooms ($17), although disappointingly unimaginative as the only vegetarian option, was rich and woodsy. And the lamburger ($12) was superb. Again, Cunningham showcased taste over concept and the simple combination of lamb with sheep’s milk yogurt, dill and cucumber was subtle and just gamey enough to be more interesting than any beef burger. The only disappointment was the side of mac ‘n cheese ($8) that didn’t have the addictive, cheesy, nostalgia.
Skip the mac ‘n cheese to splurge on the dessert if you go. The carrot cake roulade ($7) was the most enticing item of the night. Moist sheet cake was blended with goat and cream cheese frosting and butter pecan ice cream into an indistinguishable gooey mess of sweetness accented by toasted pecans.