Going Back to the Nabe

May 19, 2016

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In 1970, when I lived on the Lower East Side block where Le Turtle now feeds the trend-conscious, our door was often blocked by bums who’d passed out in the night.  The street was littered with the hulking remains of stolen cars – it was where thieves came to strip them – and the bodega on the corner played “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” constantly for one interminable summer.

So it might be that nostalgia is clouding my judgement.

Or maybe we just got lucky.  After all, I’ve only been once.  But it was a night of pure pleasure.

The restaurant hasn’t been a huge hit with the critics, which meant it was only half full.  Was that why conversation was so easy?

The seats were comfortable.

Our waiter was the best kind of professional: helpful, solicitous and not too present.

And everything we ate was wonderful.

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We started with what the menu describes as “romaine, garlic confit emulsion and anchovy breadcrumb with fiore sardo”.  That would be, basically, Caesar salad.  And a great one it was.  Perfect finger food.  Generous too.

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Fresh cheese with ramps, various members of the allium family and slices of green strawberry was utterly irresistible. I could have eaten ten.

And then, of course, the famous chicken, as presented above.  Here it is, all cut up.

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The chicken is fantastic: the skin so crisp it crackles, the flesh moist.  And at $58, it’s meant for two but would easily feed four, making it one of the city’s better bargains.

Have I mentioned that they serve good wine by the glass – and pour it with a generous hand?

So take this with a grain of salt.  I seem to have a fondness for the restaurants of Blanca alums. (The chef, Greg Proechel,worked there, as did the chef at nearby Lowlife, which I also enjoy.)

But I can’t wait to go back.


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