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Contra

Critic's Pick Critics' Pick

138 Orchard St. , New York, NY 10002 40.719878 -73.989063
nr. Rivington St.   See Map | Subway Directions Hopstop Popup
212-466 4633 Send to Phone

  • Cuisine: American Nouveau
  • Price Range: $$$

    Key to Prices and ratings

    Upscale
    • Almost Perfect
    • Exceptional
    • Generally Excellent
    • Very Good
    • Good
    Cheap Eats
    • Best in Category
    • Excellent
    • Delicious
    • Very Good
    • Noteworthy
    • Very Expensive
    • Expensive
    • Moderate
    • Cheap
  • Critics' Rating: **

    Key to Prices and ratings

    Upscale
    • Almost Perfect
    • Exceptional
    • Generally Excellent
    • Very Good
    • Good
    Cheap Eats
    • Best in Category
    • Excellent
    • Delicious
    • Very Good
    • Noteworthy
    • Very Expensive
    • Expensive
    • Moderate
    • Cheap
  • Reader Rating: Write a Review

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Official Website

contranyc.com

Hours

Dinner Tuesday through Friday 6 to 11 p.m., Saturday until midnight

Nearby Subway Stops

F, J, M, Z at Delancey St.-Essex St.; N, R at 8th St.-NYU

Prices

Tasting menu, $55

Special Features

  • Notable Chef

Reservations

Accepted/Not Necessary

Profile

Contra, which opened late last year on a relatively untraveled stretch of Orchard Street, looks at first like an advertisement for every annoyingly precious, utilitarian dining trend that has swept through the New York restaurant world in the past decade or so. The signage out front is so small that you might walk by the nondescript storefront once or twice before you figure out that there’s a restaurant inside. The narrow railroad dining space features a small table hewn from a gnarled log and a long aqua-green banquette that looks (and feels) like something you’d sit on while feeding pigeons in the park. The walls are (mostly) red brick; the floors are poured with concrete in the chic, nouveau-bunker style; and the only dining option (save for the à la carte bar menu) is a lean, runically labeled tasting menu served by waiters sporting intricately colored sleeve tattoos.

Unlike other precious tasting menus around town, however, this one costs a relatively modest $55. Your five-course dinner might include a tasty risotto made with wheat berries, uni, and fresh clams, and a chunk of seared monkfish, which the young chefs Jeremiah Stone and Fabian von Hauske finish, not unpleasantly, with a pale smoked-fish emulsion and a pinch of powdered genmaicha tea. My tepid “slow-roasted” pork collar appeared not to have been roasted enough, but my bits of roast chicken leg were more or less perfect, and if the waiter offers you a taste of the house pigeon (honey-colored, like Peking duck, and with the claw still attached), you should order it on the spot. The desserts are less arresting, as a rule, although I’m happy to report that the one constructed with yogurt sorbet and gianduja crémeux works quite well once you remove the desiccated beet chips from the top.

Recommended Dishes

Pay special attention to the poultry dishes, like chicken and roast pigeon.

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