Dirt Candy: Veggie to the NTH degree

When my vegan (and now gluten-free) friend wanted to meet for dinner, I thought Dirt Candy would be the perfect place to venture to. It was quite the experience. First off, the space is absolutely tiny, but the minimal, modern design manages to maximize the space. Peach-colored lighting sets the mood, an open kitchen sits at the rear. The concept: Each dish takes one ingredient, interprets it in different ways, and then is plated quite imaginatively. Service is so friendly, you almost feel like part of a family. As a matter of fact, my friend and I were not crazy about the bottle of wine we ordered, and did casually mention it to the server at night’s end (after we drank it!). Unbelievably, the charge was removed from the bill. We did not expect that! This place is a total treat, whether or not you are vegetarian. Portions are generous, and each dish presents complex and interesting flavor combinations. (Something to keep in mind, this restaurant is vegetarian, and will adapt most dishes to accommodate vegans, but only two of the dishes were able to be made gluten-free.)
Flatware was streamlined, perfectly balanced and a joy to eat with.

Servers pulled glasses from a thin shelf lining the wall down one side of the restaurant.

Flaky bread plus gluten-free crackers with dipping oil.

Spinach: spinach & grapefruit mille-feuille, with smoked pistachios and ricotta

Potato: warm potato salad, crispy Japanese yams, grilled sweet potato, olives, bitter greens, apples

Beans: coconut poached tofu, sea beans, saffron sauce, long beans with Moroccan herbs, sizzling rice

Beets: salt-roasted beets, thai green curry, beet gnocchi, whipped coconut galangal cream

Popcorn Pudding: salted caramel corn

Buvette: Swarming with Charm

On a perfect snowy day in December, friends visiting from Texas told me they were dying to head to Buvette, one of their favorite spots in NYC. I had it on my list of “places to go” so that was that, we trekked to the village. I don’t think we could have picked a more charming, and warm environment for that night. Buvette doesn’t take reservations, so we squeezed ourselves into the end of the bar near the window. While waiting for our table, we amused ourselves with samplings of charcuterie, cheese, and cocktails. Although crowded, the unruffled host constantly monitored the scene, and kept us informed as to our table status. The menu was simple, and the food presented nonchanlantly, but all was absolutely superb. Especially considering the prices of the entrees: $15. See details in the photos below.
A charming night awaits.
Super decor with tin ceilings, mirrors, antiques.
Erin, who loved being able to speak French for a night, and husband Jason peruse the cocktail offerings.
The book of cocktail selections.
The HOLIDAY cocktail looked sweet, but was just right.
The blackboard of cocktail selections was done with flair.
At the table, we were presented with their to-the-point, adorable, idiosyncratic menu.
We ordered a couple of side dishes to start. The beets...
and the carrot salad.
Coq au Vin.
Tart Tatin.

County Restaurant: Rustic Modern

County, located on one of the best blocks for eating in NYC (Gramercy Tavern, Il Mulino, Veritas [you will be missed!], Mari Vanna) got a new chef over the summer. Chef Jan Feshan has worked in some of the world’s finest kitchens—in NYC, at Maloney & Porcelli he tutored under David Burke and before coming to County he spent some years at ABC Kitchen where Dan Kluger was a huge influence. You can appreciate the freshness of ingredients and Feshan’s confident approach at County. The menu focuses on classic dishes orchestrated with a masterful touch. Extraordinary ingredients dominate, like the honey that is drizzled on the house-made ricotta, as well as 95 varieties of pepper that add a touch of heat to many of his dishes. County is cozy and friendly—if you go, you will return. Worth noting: they stay open between lunch and dinner, so perfect for a rest from shopping and grabbing a bite, or a sip of one of their nicely-mixed cocktails.
This was potent. Candied Ginger Old Fashioned: Bourbon, Ramazzatti, Candied Ginger, Angostura & Orange Bitters
Light yet intense. Hudson Swizzle: Vodka, Fresh Blueberry & Lemon, Ginger, Pomegranate, Orange Blossom Water
A hefty portion. Apple Walnut Salad with Bibb Lettuce, Apple, Spiced Walnuts, Parmesan Vinaigrette.
This was the special appetizer of that night, fried shrimp. Quite good.
Pan Roasted Chicken: Organic Chicken, House Smoked Bacon, Roasted Corn Succotash
Another special: Deconstructed Black Bass. Those yellow dollops of sauce were on the spicy side.