120 Rivington Street
New York, NY 10002
Back in the old days when being a locavore was the norm because everything from afar was considered a luxury. It's funny how these days, we've switched the roles. Local products are the luxury that you pay a premium to get while things from as far away as possible are what's cheap. Well, before there was Schapiro's the gastropub, there was Schapiro's the Manhattan winery, providing libations to New York's lower east side. Contrary to popular belief, Schapiro's was not a deli. Still, while the food has a definite Jewish influence, it's not Kosher... unless shrimp suddenly got rabbinical approval. And that's a good thing because there's nothing quite so disappointing as a bacon cheeseburger without bacon or cheese. Myna and I met each other there, in the East Village, for dinner and drinks after a long day of doing whatever it was I was doing that day.
When we arrived, Schapiro's was quiet. We were early. The crowd was soon to come and the interior can be tight. If you have a bag, it will likely get tripped on. That aside, Schapiro's has an energy. It's not super loud and you can have a decent conversation without screaming but you won't feel like other patrons can easily follow your every word. The decor is very prototypical gastropub. If you've been to Char No. 4 or Rebar or Freemans or any of their ilk, then you know what I mean. Schapiro's isn't breaking any new ground, but that's fine. I like those restaurants.
My appetizer was the Bone Marrow with escargot and rye toast served in the split beef bone. Escargot, done right, can be fantastic and can burst with flavor. Done poorly and it feels like you're eating fat. Although, now that I think about it, some people love eating fat. In any even, it's an acquired taste and an acquired texture and it's not much of a surprise that it hasn't caught on to the same level as the mozzarella stick. Myna didn't much care for it, but I thought that Schapiro's version was good (but not as good as M. Wells') and the escargot didn't add anything. Myna ordered the Warm Artichoke Salad, served with Parmesan over lemon. Having just only the previous night ordered an artichoke appetizer that was like chewing into shoe leather, she was hesitant to jump right back into that particular pool, but she was glad she did. Unlike the tough and stringy appetizer from a restaurant that good taste precludes mentioning, this one was soft and tender, the way that artichoke is supposed to be.
Myna's entree was the weakest dish of the night. She ordered the Sesame Veal Schnitzel with mashed potato and coleslaw, a nice traditional dish. I don't order veal mostly for reasons of not wanting to eat tortured food, but even so, this schnitzel was like kicking the calf while it was down. If veal is all about getting the most tenderness for your buck, the meat here was dry and bland. It might as well have been overcooked chicken. On the upside, they give a lot of it so Myna took the rest to work for lunch the next day. As for the sides, the mashed potato was good but the teeny bit of cole slaw was nothing to write home about. My Grilled Lamb Chops, served over a mixed vegetable assortment of grilled fennel, tomato, and zucchini was better. The lamb was very flavorful, and who doesn't like grilled vegetables? I only wish that it was larger. Unfortunately, lamb chops are more bone than meat and zucchini isn't exactly the most filling thing in creation.
When dessert time came, we ordered an Apple Cobbler (?) type dish that I forget the name of. It came with a dollop of what I thought was creme fraiche, but was actually a type of yogurt. It was okay. I think I'd have preferred a slice of cheesecake or something. Myna liked it more than I did but maybe I wasn't in the mood. Honestly, I don't have any good reason for my apathy.
At the end of it all, we liked Schapiro's. We'd return. It's a bit pricey, but no more so than the other restaurants in its vein. The atmosphere was where it really shined and the cocktails were very good. These days, if you can't mix a cocktail worth a damn, and you want to have a restaurant, you probably stick to running a diner. I'd be first in line to come back with friends, plop down in a booth at the back, order some drinks and snack it up for a couple of hours. Also, I want to try their matzo ball soup.
Two appetizers, two entrees, one dessert, coffees, four cocktails, tax, and tip totaled $174.