Must-See Lower East Side
by Chris Wallace, 03/18/2014
The Fat Radish. Photo: Julienne Schaer
Gastropubs and More
Since opening in 2003, chef/co-owner Wylie Dufresne's Michelin-starred wd~50 has been on the vanguard of inventive, ingredient-driven tasting menus and is acknowledged as one of the best restaurants in New York City. The former philosophy student and protégé of Jean-Georges Vongerichten has a creative, personal and humorous approach to molecular gastronomy—take the "pho gras," for example. In mid-2012, he reimagined his classic menu, resulting in a sprawling 12-course adventure with a culinary Neal Cassady at the wheel. For those who only ever want to hear Prince play songs from Purple Rain, Dufresne offers "From the Vault," a five-course meal presenting some of the restaurant's greatest hits.
A similar sensibility is at the heart of The Fat Radish. An evening at Ben Towill and Phil Winser's flagship is like a cinematic dinner party where the crowd is always sexy and the menu, a remix of comfort food, is better than any home cooking. Oysters, celery root potpie and a curried monkfish are fan favorites. (The duo's other restaurants—The Leadbelly, just across the street; the East Pole, on the Upper East Side; and Ruschmeyer's in Montauk, the easternmost point on Long Island—are equally stylish.) Around the corner from The Fat Radish, in a stacked-brick caverna at Bacaro, delectable Venetian-style small plates (called cicchetti in Italian) are served by candlelight.