Recently Opened Restaurants
by Julie Besonen, 01/20/2016
Photo: Evan Sung
178 Stanton St., 212-257-0509, Lower East Side, Manhattan
You won't see actual ruffians inside Lowlife, an upscale restaurant on the Lower East Side. Instead, a well-dressed crowd files in at dinnertime to sample little luxuries from Alex Leonard—the former chef de cuisine at Blanca, Roberta's fancy sister in Bushwick. The cavernous industrial space looks like a circa-1900 foundry, with exposed brick and knotty pine-clad walls. A 10-seat chef's counter faces Leonard and his team in the open kitchen. A separate bar is where to get a nice glass of wine (a full liquor license is pending) and a snack of fried chickpeas. For those who miss the vicissitudes of Wylie Dufresne's wd~50, which once occupied a spot around the corner, take solace: when the menu here reads "borscht, trout roe, raw cream," it does not mean broth or anything resembling any borscht you've ever had; instead, expect intense flavors from each of those elements. More straightforward is pasta with robust lamb Bolognese and a pretty plate of herring and sardines in pine nut breading with chimichurri sauce. Perhaps most comforting of all is the bread, served hot with a chunk of melting, tangy, freshly churned butter.