8 Rivington Street
New York, NY 10012
(212) 420-0012

If you're like me and think that the best restaurants that the city has to offer are the ones that can successfully combine being a cocktail club with a dining room, then you're bound to spend your time at Freemans smiling. There are a few (and growing) of these spread across our fair city such as, but far from limited to Rye, The Breslin, and Fort Defiance. Bossette and Shoulders, who I hadn't seen in quite some time, recommended Freemans. I arrived with Pike a little early for an aforementioned cocktail and to grab a table.

Freemans glitters at the back of Freemans Alley, past the graffiti and behind a canopy of lamps and ivy. Like so many of the new breed of restaurants that the city has to offer, Freeman's is low key without being lazy. Relaxed. Classy while maintaining being casual. Freemans isn't a seafood restaurant by any stretch, but (Pescatarian's rejoice) it has a fish-heavy menu. I won't dissect the cocktail menu the way I would with a place like Death & Co., but there is a great cocktail menu here and an impressive whiskey list. Expect to pay an average of $12 for a drink.

We went a little overboard on the appetizers, but it was all worth it. Clockwise from the top: The Steamed New England Clams served in a tomato and fennel broth with scallions and a toasted baguette. Tender and grit-free. The tomato broth was tangy and the fennel added that smokey bitterness you get from a light dusting of licorice. A Spring Greens Salad, an otherwise common salad but here tarted up with some herbs, goat cheese, shaved fennel and a rhubarb dressing. This was shared by Bossette and Shoulders and I didn't partake. What can I say? I'm not a salad guy. They thoroughly enjoyed it. The Fried Montauk Squid served with a tangy mayo was extremely good. Even people who aren't squid people will enjoy it without the fear that they'll be essentially chewing on a fish-flavored rubber band. The Grilled Cheddar Toast and Hot Artichoke Dip with Crisp Bread are exactly what they claim to be. These were the most simple appetizers and the most traditionally comfort-foodish. Maybe that's why they were my favorites. You can just relax with them... like eating a La-Z-Boy.

Shoulders had just turned down having a mac and cheese dish for lunch and, seeing the option here at Freemans, could not do so again. The creamy cheesiness called out to him so he ordered the Five Cheese Macaroni, a baked mac and cheese dish served in the pan it was cooked in. Very good it was. Bossette went for the Grilled Maine Sea Scallops, served with white beans, garlic and an almond-bean relish. She liked it and so did I. I always refrain from ordering scallops because I always remember them tasting terrible. And yet, lately, everywhere I go someone I'm with orders the scallops, I'll try one, and think that they're superb. Here, again, I really was impressed with something my brain tells me not to order. Pike ordered the Seared Filet Mignon with sweet and sour onions, mashed potatoes and a horseradish cream sauce. He inhaled the whole plate before anyone had a chance to ask for a taste so I assume it couldn't have tasted too terrible. My entree was the Cornmeal Crusted Fluke over English peas in a vegetable broth. Fantastic and light as a feather. This was the kind of fish dish I could eat every time I went out to dinner. The flavor was subtle, but not bland, all of the ingredients worked, and I put my fork down feeling neither full nor hungry. I also ordered a side of Garlic-Sauteed Rapini for the table since how can you go wrong with that?

Come dessert time, in addition to coffees, we ordered a Bananas Foster, a booze and butter and sugar drenched banana dessert topped with vanilla ice cream, and a Strawberry Rhubarb somethingorother. Sundae? Ice cream strawberry and rhubarb served in a mason jar with whipped cream and caramel. It weighed about five pounds and was deeeee-vine... God, I want one right now so bad... These desserts were seriously amazing.

The four of us paid $320 ($80 each), including tax and tip for everything listed above plus some drinks.

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