Recently Opened Restaurants
by Julie Besonen, 12/17/2014
Photo: Daniel Krieger
424 E. 9th St., 646-755-8088, East Village, Manhattan
The New Orleans–themed Exchange Alley is now the Acadian-themed King Bee (with nods to both Louisiana and the Canadian Maritimes), though current partners Ken Jackson and Eben Klemm have no association with the former occupant. This dimly lit, intimate East Village restaurant is instantly heartwarming, its copper-topped bar glinting invitingly, its booths comfy to slip into, the jazzy music on the sound system maintained at a low volume. Hello, date night! Chef Jeremie Tomczak, a vet of Red Rooster Harlem, prepares hors d'oeuvres like rabbit rillettes with crispy leeks and grilled oysters with cabbage garlic butter. At happy hour (dubbed the "hour of good cheer") fresh-shucked oysters are half price: $1.50 each. The main course highlight is salt pork confit lobster with grits and wild spinach. Klemm (Pearl & Ash) and Jackson (a former partner at Herbsaint in New Orleans) are wine lovers and have made the most of not having a full liquor license. Their list is smart and seductive.