17 Orchard Street
New York, NY 10002
The conceit behind Fat Radish, to my knowledge, was that it was supposed to be a restaurant where the fashion forward could go to be around other fashionable types without feeling the need to dress up. Casual food for hot people. If Beauty & Essex is where one would go to tell the city that you were sexy, Fat Radish was to be where one would go once that point had been proven and you wanted to leave the stilettos at home. Nonetheless, even though I told Elbie that it was casual, my self conscious self unnecessarily threw on a tie anyway and we made our way to the deserted end of Orchard Street, right on the border between the trendy Lower East Side and the filthy, roach-infested cesspit that is Chinatown.
The interior of Fat Radish is divided basically into two parts. The front is a cozy bar-like area where folks talk over high tables in a cramped but convivial setting. The rear is an actual restaurant. It's dark, but not so dark that you need a flashlight to read the menu, and while it's small, the tables are no more or less tightly spaced than at nearby Tre or uptown's Jacob's Pickles. Being led to a seat in the back at a little after nine on a Saturday, I was surprised that it wasn't more crowded, but pleased because that meant I could get a better camera placement for an interior photo. Little did I know that across the restaurant sat Jake Gyllenhaal. He soon came over, clomped his hand on my shoulder from behind and asked "So, uh, you taking photos in here?" Having yet to recognize him as anyone other than Guy Sitting With Friend Over There Number 6 and not actually at this point seeing his face, I assumed he was just some douchey manager enforcing some shitty photo rule. "Yeah, but nobody's face is visible," I said holding the screen just so. "See?" And with a grunt of acceptance he walked off. Elbie gave me a look. "Well, that was interesting" She said. "What?" I asked. "Was he a waiter? Or just someone who thinks he's famous?" "Uh," she said "he's sorta famous."
No, Go, Tell: Recognize the guy with his hand over his mouth? Neither did I until he got all touchy.
Since the restaurant wasn't the one giving me grief about clicking away, the camera stayed out for when the food arrived. Fat Radish calls itself a British restaurant, which it may well be, but I was hard-pressed to find anything traditional on the menu. That isn't a bad thing, but if you're looking for fish and chips, I'll tell you now that it would be a pointless endeavor (at least as of this writing). Elbie ordered the Baby Beet Salad with a pine nut dressing which she thought was fantastic. I thought it was a beet salad. Salads have never been my thing so I'm always somewhat pleased when someone orders them. This way I can try them, talk about them to you, and never have to feel like I passed up on something better. The something better, in this case, was Sweet Pea Summer Pie, a pea-centric pot pie served with a far-too-small portion of creme fraiche. The crust was perfect but the peas were too undercooked for my liking. I fully realize this was intentional, but semi-warm al dente legumes are simply boring. Maybe if they threw in a little blood sausage for flavor instead of a barely noticeable hint of mint...
The entrees were slightly better than the appetizers, but again, somewhat flat overall. Elbie's main course was the Montauk Diver Sallops served on a bed of polenta. Again, she ordered something I never would have. I have a relatively short list of things I don't much care for but scallops are on it. Still, I will admit that these weren't bad at all. Very tender, sweet, with a slight crust. They weren't gamey or chewy and didn't leave your mouth with that I-just-licked-a-sidewalk-on-Mott-Street feeling. My entree was the Green Curried Monkfish with wild rice, eggplant and snake beans (long green beans). I love curry, even the timid green kind. This dish was pleasant, but too soft. There was nothing specifically wrong with it, but it was so bland that hospitals should recommend it to their ulcer patients. The monkfish was so light that it could float away, but it got lost in the curry flavor, which itself was hardly strong. Indeed, the strongest taste in the dish was that of the eggplant. I liked it, but if I return, I'd probably go for the pork chop.
What I won't recommend are the cocktails. Despite being $12 each, none are really worth writing about, save one: a cocktail based on beet juice that, while being the same vibrant, fluorescent red color of NyQuil was only half as strong and didn't taste nearly as good. Get wine.
Our meal consisted of two appetizers, two entrees, four cocktails and a small french press coffee, plus tax and tip totaled $161.
[ Copyright eateryROW 2012 ]