On the Town
Restaurant: Dirt Candy
430 E. 9th St., 212-228-7732, East Village, Manhattan
Early dining might not be the norm for the East Village, but if you want a seat at Dirt Candy (which you do), then be prepared for the possibility of a 5:30 feeding time. This wee restaurant devoted to the brilliant execution of vegetables is jammed with vegetarians and omnivores alike. But dining before you've typically even left the office has its rewards: Amanda Cohen's cooking. Cohen knows the NYC vegetarian scene quite well, having worked at Pure Food & Wine and the dearly departed Heirloom, among others, and she knew that when running her own operation, the emphasis would be solely on the veggies. Above orange banquettes is a wall of wine glasses ($5 half pours are not only a godsend in today's budget-or-bust world, they're also quite generously sized). From the small but glorious menu, begin with maple butter smeared on jalapeño hush puppies ($6) as good as any authentic "down South" version. Then spread the quavering cube of portobello mousse ($13) on a crostini, pâte-style, along with a trickle of fennel pear compote. Pinot Grigio–infused pappardelle ($18) could be a contender for one of the City's most inventive pasta dishes, with its vibrant pink sauce studded with roasted cauliflower and dehydrated pine nuts. At first glance, the crispy tofu could pass for a piece of perfectly cooked halibut: crisp skin cloaking a firm, juicy body. Underneath, a mélange of greens soaking up a Kaffir lime–heightened beurre blanc tastes just as healthy as a Vitamin A–rich smoothie going down. While your pot of Intelligentsia coffee ($3) brews, sample the ricotta fritters ($9). Unlike the State Fair–variety zeppole you might be accustomed to, green tomato marmalade sets Dirt Candy's apart.
By Alia Akkam, Paper magazine contributor
355-A Bowery, 212-925-3890, East Village, Manhattan
EVA is a modern clothing boutique that recently moved from NoLIta to—where else?—the Bowery. With stark white walls, fluorescent light fixtures and boxy display rooms, the store aesthetic is gallery-inspired. Owner Stephanie Pappas has selected a handful of brands with an international, creative edge that look right at home in the slick minimalist space. Anchored by visionary labels like Vivienne Westwood and (arriving soon) Helmut Lang, the store also features newer lines like Henrik Vibskov (Copenhagen), C Neon (Berlin), Burfitt (Paris), Rodebjer (Sweden), TV (Australia), Telfar (New York) and Blaque Label (US), among others. The assortment is heavy on black and gray, but there are punches of bright color, too: an airy butterfly-shaped dress by Henrik Vibskov is a rich rose color, and there are some wildly patterned harem pants and electric-blue tent blouses.
EVA's jewelry and accessories are similarly progressive. Hanging in the back room of the store are necklaces by Saltalamacchia, a new jewelry line made of long interwoven strands of horsehair, yarn and thin chains...Tiffany's it ain't. There are some other quirky pieces perched in display cubes near the register, like a wicked feather hair barrette and shell earrings.
Pappas curates her shop with a focus on artsy designs that are fun and hip but, above all, well-made. This philosophy includes hosting art installations that will rotate and sell in the store. The first presentation is a photo exhibition by Cecilia Jurado entitled Oral Fixation, a series of blurred supermodel close-ups and Swiss chocolate bars wrapped in these images. (The show opened on March 8 and featured a model covered in chocolate for the occasion.)
By Rebecca Prusinowski, Paper magazine contributor
Bar: Brooklyn Public House
247 Dekalb Ave., 347-227-8976, Fort Greene, Brooklyn
Brooklyn Public House, a former candy store in Fort Greene, found much of its antique decor in the basement, where a beautiful old mirror and old posters had been cast off by previous owners. Under new ownership, the space has been lovingly restored into a Victorian-inspired inn, complete with the found accessories, gold damask wallpaper and a spooky tintype portrait hanging on the wall. There are 24 beers by the bottle and 15 on tap, including Checker Cab blonde, a Twisted Thistle IPA, and Brooklyn Brewmaster Reserve, all carbonated with nitrogen, instead of C02, to keep brews extra crisp. Thankfully, classic cocktails are on the way—banquettes in the window are ideal for smugly lounging with a Sazerac or Old Fashioned in front of passersby. Narrow tables in the back are made of wood from the building's original flooring, and lit with lovely art deco light fixtures hung from above. There's a food menu with hearty classics like burgers and wings, but, unfortunately, this is where Brooklyn Public House was a miss: our pan-fried chicken with sautéed spinach and mashed potatoes ($12.50) took almost an hour to arrive, and when it did, it was served with chips instead of mashed potatoes, and rice pilaf instead of spinach. Disappointing, but nothing a few more weeks of practice can't fix—once the kitchen kinks are ironed out and those cocktails arrive, the Public House will be a neighborhood hub in no time.
By Elizabeth Thompson, Paper magazine contributor
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