Tables for Two
by Kelly Snowden, New York Observer contributor, 02/05/2009
359 Bleecker St. • 212-929-477
August's small West Village storefront looks inviting any time of year, but its true magnetism shines best in winter. The wood-burning oven beckons you from the street, as does the aroma of whatever's coming out of it—a wooden paddle brandishing a tarte flambé with thick chunks of bacon, say, or a cast-iron skillet filled with crackling duck confit cassoulet. It's not all French here, though—the menu skips around the Mediterranean, stealing inspiration from Italy and Spain as well. Italian highlights include the Sicilian orata, served whole with a juicy, briny sweetness, and the orange and polenta torta, with its subtle crunch. Pimenton mussels and slow-cooked suckling pig give subtle nods to Spain. There's no hard liquor and no bar for waiting, but fortunately the restaurant struck its no-reservations policy a few years back. The wine list, though abbreviated, is interesting and includes several Europeans beers. The two dining rooms each offer their own charms. The front room, with its arched ceiling, yellow distressed paint and black bench seating, is cozy and inviting. There's steep competition from the glass-ceiling atrium, though, which lets diners enjoy the pleasure of eating al fresco even during bone-chilling conditions.
Table for Two
Table 69 may be small, but set in a garden room under a skylight (with toasty heaters in winter), it packs a potent romantic punch.
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