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Bell Book & Candle


There's a reason why the only thing you've heard about Bell Book & Candle is that they grow a bunch of vegetables on their West Village roof. Think about it though, do you really want to eat "fresh produce" from the city of Manhattan? This whole farm to table thing has gone too far. We're putting our foot down on Bell Book & Candles's urban "aeroponic roof-top" to table. The streets of NYC may glisten with fresh urine, but when it comes to fresh produce, let's let actual farmers take care of that. Those tomatoes need to breathe fresh country air, not the disgusting city schmutz we all ingest on a daily basis. Getting back to my original point, it's the rooftop garden that gets all the attention because whatever grows inside BB&C;'s kitchen is not exciting.

The actual restaurant is really nice. Bell Book & Candle is huge. It's got a spacious, inviting bar to go along with multiple well-appointed dining rooms. Problem is, if this menu looks too good to be true, that's because it is. That's a lot of action. When you have eight different sections on a menu, one would think a server's first task would be to help you navigate. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. Our server was shy and timid, offering minimal help or guidance in terms of a menu game plan. We needed someone to take control and lead us to good BB&C; experience, and, instead, we were left to try and do it on our own - which proved to be a complete disaster. After our snacks arrived first, all hell broke loose. Random dishes came firing out of the kitchen in no particular order, one or two at a time. Salads and appetizers arrived after the entrees and there was no cohesion to our meal. It was really bad news, and the most poorly executed dining experience we've been a part of in a long time.

If the food was delicious, we could have at least overlooked the awful execution. However, that wasn't the case. While everything sounded incredible, not much delivered on the promise, even the rooftop salads. There's a chance we'd come back and saddle up to the bar for drinks and oysters, but, honestly, we wouldn't suggest a full meal here. We sampled close to the whole menu and left extremely disappointed.

Food Rundown


When the warm, fluffy, challah-esque table bread is the highlight of the night, that's a problem.

Lobster Taco

Lobster with tomatillo and avocado salsa wrapped in a tortilla. This was not very good. While there was definitely a fair amount of lobster in this, the combo with the salsa just didn't work. The lobster winds up being soaked in tomato salsa. Not pleasant.

Drunken Bean Dip

Nothing to be mad at here. This bean dip served with grilled flatbread is a solid appetizer to share.

Warm Pretzels

We were excited about these, but they were no better than the microwavable Super Pretzels from the frozen foods section of your grocery store. The Milk Stout mustard dip however, was pretty damn good.

Fried Deviled Eggs

The best thing on the menu. If you find yourself at BB&C, you need to order these.

House-made Burrata

We ordered and would have loved to try this salad of burrata with blistered tomatoes, "rooftop basil," and garlic, but we never got it. One of the casualties of our war with the kitchen.

Rooftop Mixed Greens

With all the hype about the rooftop garden, one would think this salad would be amazing. Honestly, it looked like a pizza hut salad bar salad and didn't taste much better. The only thing we could taste in the "Old-school Thousand Island" were chunks of sea salt. Gross.

Tomato & Fennel Soup

When it comes to soup only piping hot or very cold will do for us. This came out room temperature and tasted like pureed black licorice, the fennel was so overpowering. Skip it.

Crisp Pork Belly w/ Rooftop Arugula & Cherries

An arugula salad with a couple overly cooked, super dry pieces of pork belly. Fail.

Grilled Lamb Chops

Two little lamb chops for $18? That's a little much. Especially when they taste like they haven't been seasoned at all. More salt please.

Grass-fed Steak Tartare

This was OK. We dug the heirloom potato crisps that the steak tartare was served with, but, like many of the dishes at BB&C, it was a bit bland.

Grilled & Roasted Seasonal Vegetables

When one of the better things on the menu is a simple plate of grilled veggies, that's not a good sign. Also, there was no mention of them being roof grown, so it's possible even the quality veggies on the menu aren't grown in the West Village.

Amish Roasted Half Chicken

This was fine. We ate it, but it was under seasoned and not all that exciting.

Roasted Halibut

Overcooked fish is never something you want to encounter at a restaurant, but that's what happened here. It probably would have been an OK dish otherwise -the corn succotash it came with was tasty.

Grilled Hanger Steak

The steak was decent. Served very rare with blue cheese, onion marmalade, and steak sauce, this is a pretty safe order.

Short Ribs

A bomb short rib requires time, effort and love. BB&C might want to consider that before serving theirs, which is average at best and has minimal flavor. The mashed potatoes that came with it were hard, and that's not a good look for mashed potatoes.

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