east village


A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity along with my friends to check out Ethos, a new restaurant in the East Village. We arrived to find the front sidewalk carpeted in pastel rose petals, balloons, and a smiling hostess greeting us at the door. I quickly realized as we walked into the space that I had been there before to dine at the prior establishment. The space had been brightened, from the open and exposed kitchen to the fabulous enclosed patio space and garden at the rear of the restaurant.

Ethos, East Village

Currently the space in the back features a garden which supplies the produce for the restaurant. The very warm owner was on hand to take us on a tour through the space, including a downstairs spot perfect for accommodating large groups. There’s even a separate bar on hand to complete the event. Having been in a few other East Village locations with basements, I was impressed how warm the space felt. This will be a great addition to restaurant.

Ethos, East Village

While the menu has some heavier options mixed in, it’s very much a place focused on small plates, perfect for sharing with a group of your closest friends (though works equally well for a first date!). You can choose your preference amongst the open bar area you walk through when you first enter the restaurant, the main dining room, or the enclosed patio.

Ethos, East Village

We started the meal with an assortment of appetizers, including the mandatory spreads ranging from tsatziki to hummus, to baba ghanoush. Not typically all that fond of tsatziki, I was surprised to find just how fabulous their rendition is. You could taste all of the layers of it, making it a cool contrast of an addition to their fresh warm pita. Their hummus was nice and smokey and the baba ghanoush was the best I have ever tried. Definitely recommend this assortment for sharing among friends.

Ethos, East Village

Another starter we tried was the baby octopus with mixed organic greens, vine ripened tomatoes and grilled peppers, which was served with a lemon and olive dressing. This clean fresh meal tasted like summer on a plate, complete with tomatoes from their on-premises garden. Their grilled octopus had that nice touch of char stopping just shy of overly crunchy. Perfect. For something with great flavor and a bit of flourish (hello, table-side ouzo-soaked flambé), don’t miss their Saganaki Kefalotiri. Imported greek kefalotyri cheese pan seared in olive oil. Nothing wrong about that.

Ethos, East Village

Of course, we had to try one of their lamb dishes. This here is off the mezes, but there are also other larger portions which come accompanied by side dishes (if that’s more your style).

Ethos, East Village

To finish, we tried a pastry creme tart with berries and their crème brûlée. I was a bit disappointed to not get to give their baklava a taste seeing as it’s such a signature Greek dish, but I figure that’s just yet another reason for a return visit. Great addition to a great neighborhood!

Ethos – 167 Avenue A (b/w E10 & E11) – 646.596.9051
Reservations Suggested

Photos courtesy of Joey Pasion.

I’ve been to 7A twice the last couple of weeks with my sister. We wanted to squeeze in at least a couple of visits before it closes its doors for the last time on January 31st. I’ve already posted over on Medium just how sad their closing makes me. They’re on the short list of restaurants I automatically link to neighborhoods, almost as if one couldn’t exist without the other.

Friday night though, I think it all set in. Deciding we were going to go all-out with our final visit, my sister kicked off our order, “We’d like to start with the mozzarella cheese sticks.”

Our server paused, seemingly running through a mental list. She shook her head, “We are actually out of those.”

Caught off guard, my sister continued, “Okay, well I’ll have the Austrian … the fried chicken cutlet with sweet potato fries.”

The server looked back up. “I think we still have those. I’ll check. If not, are regular fries okay?” My sister nodded yes.

As our meal continued, I heard similar conversations between patrons and the servers. No, we don’t have that beer. We are out. No, sorry we are out of that menu item. With 7 days to go, it seems as if they’re done. No new supplies. Just there to sell out of their existing kitchen inventory.

The last weekend has come and gone, so no more chance at brunch, but there still are several nights to squeeze in a dinner or lunch. A last hurrah. Might I suggest the Austrian sandwich – of course, assuming it’s in stock.

The intersection of East 7th and Avenue A will never be the same.

Side note, this is this blog’s 1,000th post! I can’t think of anything better to be the focus of this post.

7A Cafe – 109 Avenue A (at East 7th Street) – 212.475.9001
Reservations Not Required

Back in July, I took T to Hearth to celebrate his birthday. I liked the low key feel of the restaurant, which was cozy but not the least bit pretentious. They were celebrating their summer of riesling, and all of the wait staff was wearing t-shirts supporting that fact.

We chose to go with the 7 course tasting menu. They started with a simple lentil salad with fresh pressed extra virgin olive oil. It might have been simple, but the flavors were quite expressive – and the olive oil was noticeably flavorful. This course was followed by a warm summer salad, with purple basil and pickled veggies. I’m not accustomed to warm salads, but this one was a nice contrast to the cool lentil salad that had preceded it,

The next course was Wild Florida Snapper with a bacon consume. There was something almost irreverent about fish and bacon. Is that legal? It was so good! The broth and sprinkling of bacon across the top was such a fun mix of flavors with the snapper. So fish and bacon? I say I’m a believer.

The next dish was basic comfort food done right. Hearth’s homemade macaroni with housemade ricotta was just solid goodness. The thick tubed pasta noodles were a fun variation, and the ricotta versus thick cheese layers made for a lighter, more summery spin on the classic. This was ricotta done right.

Our next course was the heartiest – lamb with a chickpea and feta salad and a chickpea purée. The lamb portion only looked small. It ended up being more than enough. The lamb was perfectly cooked. The sauce was not overwhelmingly heavy, but just enough to make a statement. The chickpea purée might not have photographed wonderfully here, but it was quite tasty in person (I promise).

When I saw dessert come out for course six, I had to smile, since that meant not one but two dessert courses! First up was a marscapone cheesecake with candied sunflower seed and golden raisins. I really liked this one. The marscapone made for a lighter cheesecake and the candied sunflower seed, something I’d never had, was a nice salty contrast to the dish.

I don’t know if it is because I have not been eating much chocolate these days, or if it was the six preceding courses, but I was a bit done by the time the final dish appeared in front of me at the table. It was quite good, though on the heavier side for a dessert. It was a dense Valherona chocolate accompanied by coconut gelato, hazelnuts, and a chocolate mousse. The mousse along with the gelato was my favorite part.

And for T’s finale, there was strawberry shortcake, complete with a happy birthday note.

Overall, the meal made for a wonderful way to celebrate the occasion. I’d wanted to visit for quite some time and was glad to see it lived up to the hype!

Hearth – 403 E 12th St (at 1st Ave) – 646.602.1300
Reservations Required

Figuring out what to do for New Year’s is always involved. Of course, the most intriguing of things always hit the wallet the hardest. There’s always some great options for staying in, but since we stayed in last New Year’s Eve, I was sort of set on heading out for the evening. One option which caught our eye was highlighted in Zagat’s NYE picks on their blogThe Third Man, a new spot that just opened on Avenue C by the team behind Edi and the Wolf. $85 – food, drinks, and an actual seat (something which definitely comes at a premium in NYC). While at home in Alabama for the holidays, I made it my mission to finally connect to book this – as their phone went straight to voicemail and the page the article linked to was not live. After a few days of Facebook stalking, emailing, and the like we were booked.

When we got there, we weren’t sure what to expect. None of us had ever been there – which made sense, as we learned due to delays from Sandy, they’d only been open for about a week beforehand! When we got there, it looked really empty so we thought we might be having an accidental personal party. It ended up being that one large group had booked for the evening, so it would become quite full later in the evening.

They had made a cocktail list just for the evening – one called the past, one the present, and one called bijou (we never figured out why). They were quite good and we were impressed that even though it got busier throughout the evening, the service was still amazing.

We were expecting some light bites, but what we had ended up being so much more. I haven’t seen their usual menu, but I sincerely hope that some of the things from NYE are a part of their regular menu. The first thing we had was a flatbread pizza, which was seemingly simple but the flavor combinations were just amazing. Dates, onion jam, and gruyere… so good.

There was a plate of farmer’s cheese served with a paprika spread as well as a pumpkin seed oil (something we understand to be a bit of a signature offering here). The spreads were so different from each other – the paprika much bolder and the pumpkin subtle yet a wonderful addition to the bread. The dish above – the house cured speck – was a wonderful meat course. It was light, and only slightly salty. The mustard with a touch of spice was a nice addition to the pork, as well as the pickled vegetables.

There was also an autumn salad with roasted pears, hazelnuts, arugula, turnips, camembert cheese, with a cider/sherry vinaigrette. And finally we were each treated with a full-sized dinner plates for us with wiener schnitzel (pictured above), accompanied  by housemade potato salad.

It ended up being a perfect way to ring in the New Year with friends! I think I speak for us all when I say we can’t wait to go back for another visit.

Where’d you ring in 2013?

The Third Man – 116 Avenue C (at East 7th) – 212.598.1040

Peels has been on my list for quite some time. I remember when it first opened that it was too crazy to think of trying it, so I kept waiting and eventually, forgot I could try to go again. My friend A was in town this particular weekend. We’d had an eventful day – sitting front row for Porgy and Bess and then getting to go backstage after the show to meet Audra McDonald herself! She was so warm and friendly. We even wandered through Broadway Barks for a bit before heading for dinner. I made us a reservation, though it wasn’t super necessary since we were going at 6 – on the early side for NYC. I loved the interior of the restaurant. It had an unexpected upstairs area and far more seating than I’d ever anticipated from walking by the building countless times. It felt appropriately Southern.

Hushpuppes - Peels

Hushpuppies

While we waited for another friend of ours to join, we tried out an order of their hushpuppies. I had to try them for comparison purposes. I feel compelled to try them any time they are on a menu, although I’m almost always disappointed (looking at you Bubba Gump – crawfish hushpuppies? Never again). I have to say, the ones at Peels are some of the best I’ve had since leaving the South. Slightly sweet and crumbly. They also have a nice cocktail menu. Some highlights include the watermelon gimlet (tequila, watermelon, opal basil, and lime) and the Kentucky Corpse Reviver (bourbon, curacao, Lillet, lemon, and mint).

Tuna Tartare - Peels

Tuna Tartare

For entrees, we decided to share a couple of dishes. We ordered the fried chicken (cause you just have to) and the tuna tartare. The tuna wasn’t anything extraordinary but was nicely done, especially on a warm summer evening.

Fried Chicken - Peels

Fried Chicken

The fried chicken itself was good. The breading wasn’t too thick and it wasn’t remotely greasy, which is a pretty amazing feat. It was served with one of their biscuits – which was large, fluffy, and something I’d definitely do again if I return for brunch. Where they lost me though was the salad that accompanied the dish. I thought it was a nice touch. Fried chicken and a bit of iceberg lettuce with blue cheese … wait. Blue cheese? Uh uh. Proper dressing would absolutely be ranch. Such a bummer.

Cheeseburger - Peels

Cheeseburger

Another friend opted for their burger, which looked quite good as well.

Blackberry Eton Mess Fool - Peels

Blackberry Eton Mess Fool

For dessert, I had to try the Blackberry Eton Mess Fool. I still don’t know what the heck the name means. All I know is that the dessert was so good. Listen to the mix – blackberries, crunchy meringue, yogurt mousse, and mint ice cream. I’m assuming the “mess” comes from the presentation – everything all crammed into a tall container. Everything was perfectly mixed though that in almost every bite you could try all of the elements together. I wasn’t sure about mixing the mint in, but it worked. And being much more accustomed to the soft nature of meringue I just loved the crunchy meringue.

Overall, I really enjoyed my visit to Peels. I will definitely have to make a return visit for brunch!

Peels – 325 Bowery (at E 2nd Street) – 646.602.7015
Reservations Suggested

Last night I went to Mobster Movie Night with Google Places. It was in an old theater in the East Village – Theater 80 –  that still has an original speakeasy bar in the entry from the time of prohibition. The owner was a fascinating quirky man who explained to us about the history of the theater (connection to Elliott Ness), and even a little about basement smuggling tunnels underneath the theater you can still access today. Sadly, didn’t win the raffle to get to explore those.

Little this, little that

Little this, little that

We watched The Untouchables on the big screen and enjoyed platters on food from Russ and Daughters, a spot I’ve been meaning to try since moving here that I sadly only pass by when it’s closed or I’ve just eaten.

Their salmon was delicious – they had it served on both slices of bagel and on toast. They also had pastrami salmon, something I’d never tried. It was heavier tasting (almost more meaty in flavor than seafood-y) and was a bit smoky. So good. I’ll definitely have to finally make a visit in person to really try all they have to offer.

Russ and Daughters – 179 East Houston Street – 212.475.4880

On Monday, Butter Lane invited me to stop by to taste test possible new icing flavors for the month of August. If you’re new to this blog, you might have missed out of all of the various times I’ve raved about Butter Lane. Let’s say I’ve been a fan for a long time. I love their varied icings, your option to customize the pairing of icing with the cake base (banana, chocolate, or vanilla), and they try to use as little processed items in their baking as possible.

So true...

So true...

The options were interesting – pistachio, peach, and cherry. What I like about icing shots at Butter Lane is that they don’t just give you a plain cup of icing. The shot is topped off with something corresponding to the flavor. Pistachio was topped with actual pistachios. The peach was topped with a peach drizzle. The cherry was topped by a big fresh cherry. And with the peach and cherry, there were little fruit bits throughout all of the icing.

Three August Icing Flavor Contenders

Three August Icing Flavor Contenders

We each voted for which one we thought as the best and they were going to then compile the votes and choose August’s flavor. I had to go with peach, though I wouldn’t be disappointed if cherry came out the winner. So much fun to be able to participate in this with Butter Lane!

Butter Lane – 123 East 7th Street (at Avenue A) – 212.677.2880

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