Ambrose NYC

One

of a

Kind

"Dining"

The worst I've ever seen.
Aaron Kingston
A ten minute read.
★★★★★ (0)

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rating: +2+x

Disclaimer: I open with a direct query to Mr. Chaz Ambrose himself. You may, at your own leisure, read the first section of this review, but as you are likely not Chaz Ambrose, it is not necessary for you. If you are Chaz Ambrose, read the following, if nothing else.


To Mr. Ambrose:

What was the process that led to the creation of Ambrose NYC? How involved were you in the process? Surely, as your name lies on almost every single thing in the entire place, you were involved to a great deal. Surely, since you pride yourself on the reputation of your establishments and the quality of food that they serve, you must have eaten the location at least once. And if we can assume that you have eaten at the location before, how did any of the food served pass muster to your presumably rigorous standards? Is this the kind and variety of food that you yourself consume on a regular basis, if you can even be so generous as to call it food?

Have you ever had the chance to enter Ambrose NYC "undercover" or even attempt to experience it through the eyes of an ordinary customer? If so, what were your thoughts on the service? Was it up to the quality that you advertise throughout your locations, and pride yourself upon? Did the food you order manage to appear at your table, or were you served with mystery items that you could not even recall having seen upon the menu? Was your food served promptly and on time, or even anything beginning to approach such concepts?

If the answer is as I would expect (or perhaps, hope) it is — that you have never even stepped foot inside Ambrose NYC — then I would strongly urge you to visit. I trust that your reaction to the dining experience you will receive will be of the same sort as my own. The alternative is that you approve of the experience at this location, and that is simply far too insane of an idea to even begin to entertain.


Decor

Ambrose NYC does everything it can to capture the feel of Americana despite a complete lack of understanding of what that actually entails. This is understandable, as Mr. Ambrose hails from London and has had little exposure to American culture. However, one would have expected that another person in the design process would have objected to the questionable design decisions made in the decoration of Ambrose NYC and done anything to stop them. But alas, there does not appear to have been anything of the sort before the opening, and we are cursed to live with Ambrose NYC.

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One of the less tacky shots I could get.

The interior of Ambrose NYC looks like a horrific fusion of just about every single possible trope that one could hope to see in a generic "American small diner", but in such a way that doesn't synergize. There are countertop islands sitting in the middle of the floor, surrounded on all sides by booths. Inoperable jukeboxes and vending machines are scattered between tables and chairs, often getting in the way of traffic. Perhaps the near mazelike effect of the floor is what causes such delays in the delivery of food?

There was no natural lighting at my own table. We were apparently deep into the bowels of Ambrose NYC that the outside world was nothing more than a fleeting memory. Our surroundings were all poorly illuminated, and while the decorations appeared similar to the Americana I had seen on our way in, it was all so dark I could barely make anything out. Paintings on the wall looked familiar, but I couldn't see them clearly to identify them.

Chairs and tables are neither comfortable or sizeable. Even when I was lucky enough to see our old dishes bussed, my table barely had enough room for two plates, and yet it was evidently meant to sit three. Seating arrangements appear to have as much variance as the rest of the design in the restaurant. My table two different seats: a short stool with no back and and uncomfortable seat, and a wooden chair that seemed more appropriately sized for a child. There was also the noted absence of a potential third chair, in the way that shreds your mind. My wife sat in the stool and I took the chair, which did not reach up to the table and I was forced to sit upon my feet to reach the table. We did our best to ignore the chair-shaped hole.

At one point, I left to try and find a bathroom. On the way, I passed by a ledge, marked by a flimsy and poorly secured guardrail. Looking down, I could see that there was a large shaft, stretching down several stories, with windows looking out onto the shaft, with kitchens on the other sides. This was baffling, as there were several levels of kitchens, and their views from the exterior only looked into a dismal pit. The area I was in was not well trafficked, so the windows did not appear to be for the benefit of customers to see their food preparation.

I finally managed to find the bathrooms, although there were no signs on the walls. In fact, the only things on many of the hallways were strange sigils and runes with no clear meaning. They appear to have been meticulously placed, but there is no sensible logic in them. Even with a background in occult workings, I was unable to make any heads or tails of the scrawled writings. If they do anything (and I'm not sure that they do), then it is nothing intentional.

The bathrooms were fine, although the signage on them was just as strange: there two bathrooms next to each other, but neither was marked for gender. At least, not for human gender. Instead, there was only a tentacle on one door, and a fang upon another. Since nobody else was around, I simply chose at random and hoped for the best.


Service

In truth, I cannot say that the service at Ambrose NYC was truly intolerable. Unlike the other elements of the restaurant, the most I can muster up to describe is "ineffable". Although there were certainly various quirks that I noticed, the wait staff did appear to make a concerted effort to deliver the best service experience possible, although their ability to do so appeared to have been worn down by the unenviable experience of actually working at Ambrose NYC.

Upon entering the restaurant, my hostess informed my wife and I that she must apologize in advance if for any trouble in navigating to my table, and proceeded to give us verbal instructions for how to walk to it. I felt this was a strange start and questioned the usage of it, but it the reasoning was confirmed when she simply vanished into thin air halfway before we made it to the table. We took the advice she had given us and marched on to our table, which strangely already had our name written on it, in a reserved note.

My food was late at every turn. We waited for unreasonable amounts of time for anything to come out of the kitchen, even the most simple of requests (such as a glass of water). However, the wait staff who arrived to our table (who were different every time they visited) were constantly apologetic, saying that they were trying their best. Their demeanor was obvious enough: they were frantic, trying to navigate through a hostile building with confusing design only intended to confound. As far as I could tell, they were indeed trying their best, and I cannot fault them for the service I recieved.

This is not a full pardon for the service that I received. I simply put it forward to say that I do not blame the individual waiters and chefs for the quality of the restaurant, as it appears that the upper management was attempting to make the experience as unenjoyable as possible. There needs to be great change at the establishment if it wants to continue, but this change must come at a higher level than the individuals. The waiters performed admirably, as well as they could have under their pitiable predicament.


Food

Just as with everything else at Ambrose NYC, the menus are strange and nearly incoherent. The majority of items are either poorly described or incorrectly described in some manner. The menu ended up being nearly unusable for anything other than a basic idea of what things were called, and even then, this was not a useful metric. For this reason, I am not including an excerpt of the menu, as is traditional for Waldon Studios reviews.

The appetizers set me up for disappointment. Unlike the rest of the menu, the appetizers were well described and straight forward. I ordered the "Sun-Infused Fried Cauliflower" which was described as being cooked in seconds with nothing more extremely concentrated harvested sunlight. The description indicated it had an ethereal taste, one that could only be described using words that applied to light, not food. The correct menu item arrived following my order, and it did genuinely have the taste the menu said would. The only qualm I had was that the cauliflower was not served on a plate, but rather upon some kind of occult manuscript (the grease of the dish ruined the book and made it unreadable). Other than this, it was one of the best things I've eaten at an Ambrose Restaurant and it gave me false hope the meal could be redeemed.

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Unedited photograph. Flash was not used.

I cannot speak to how good the cocktail menu is. I ordered a glass of rosé sangria, thinking that this was a simple beverage that they could not possibly do poorly. I was already stressed and bewildered by Ambrose NYC at that point, and wanted some wine to settle my nerves. However, this was not to happen. When the wine arrived, it glowed for some inexplicable reason. My table was dark enough that I could see it was actively producing light, and the light persisted as I swished it around in the glass. I elected not to drink the fluids, as I had serious doubts that it was in fact either wine or safe.

For entrees, I ordered the "Loaded Carnitas & Barbacoa Nacho Platter" and the "Ultra-Deluxe Aurochs Burger". The first of these was a simple meal that seemed to have no unusual properties, which made me curious as to what Ambrose NYC would do with it. (Many of the menu items lacked full descriptions, particularly of their unusual ingredients and/or properties.) The second was described as being made from extinct aurochs meat, and I figured now would be one of my few chances to try it.

What I actually received was nothing of the sort: instead a wine bottle filled with smoke and a plate of black JellO were placed down before me. When I asked what I had received, the two dishes were merely described as "bottled sacrifice and void gelatin. Both perfectly edible and safe." When I asked if I could get what I had actually ordered, I was told "No." When I reminded my server that I was a food reviewer working for Waldon Studios, they simply shrugged and said that my review of Ambrose NYC would have no relevance when the sun goes out in five billion years, so it was therefore of no cosmic consequence.

I decided to try the "void gelatin" first. When I looked closely at it, I noticed at first that it appeared deep, far deeper than the dish it was served in would allow. If I had to guess, I would say that it was thousands of miles deep, like the expanse of the sky itself. I dipped my spoon in, and felt that if I dropped it, it would slip into the abyss, never to be seen again. Sure enough, it did on my third bite. The gelatin itself had a much chewier consistency than expected, and had rich notes of chocolate and blackberry.

As for the bottled sacrifice, there was a small release valve on the bottle, with instructions to open it and inhale the smoke. I followed the instructions, and breathed in the contents. All of the ingredients used to create the smoke were present: cow, pig, chicken, various fruits and vegetables and more. I could taste them all at once, and even more flavorful than anything cooked with them would have been. Moreover, although I coughed out much of the smoke, it was immensely filling. Together, me and my wife could barely finish half the bottle.

Although I asked if there were any desserts available, I elected not to have any. The options I was given were "Vampire Pumpkin Pie", "Actual Lava Chocolate Lava Cake", and "Apple Cobbler of Discord". With great fear as to what any of those could possibly be and no desire to see their affects in person myself, I decided that it was a good time to ask for the check.

For the most part, the food served by Ambrose NYC is delicious and some of the best in the world. Most of the dining is better than anything I have ever had the chance to taste elsewhere, nor could anything similar be produced elsewhere. However, the fact that there are indeed items that are questionable to consume, the lack of clear menu descriptions for many of the orders, and the fact that the food you order may not be what you actually eat ruins Ambrose NYC, and steal every possible star it could have gotten.


Conclusion

A sense of insanity and chaos permeates the entirety of Ambrose New York City, down to the very core. It is a dining experience entirely dissimilar to anything I have ever had in the past, to the point where I feel like I am forced to conclude that it is not accidentally bad but intentionally. The intent of the design appears not to have been to create an environment in which good food is served, but something else entirely. Something entirely inexplicable.

I cannot recommend Ambrose NYC to the average individual. It does not have any of the qualities that I look for in a meal, or even in a building. However, if you are the rare and insane individual who, for some utterly deranged reason, wants to be stripped of all sense of right and morality during a process that manages to provide a bare minimum of edible nutrients to your body, then Ambrose NYC just might be for you. Even for such a customer, I cannot guarantee your satisfaction.

Dine at your own risk, or preferably, not at all.

Zero stars.


Update

The following reply was sent to Waldon Studios by Ambrose Restaurants in response to this review. We are unable to determine the meaning of many of the statements that Mr. Ambrose makes in it, but have included it nonetheless.

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