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This venue is closed.
At Elettaria, furtively located behind a red painted door among the jumble of knickknack shops and seedy shoe stores east of Sixth Avenue on 8th Street, you will find many of the more trendy, au courant, big-city restaurant styles in place. The name, I was told by one of the food savants at my table, refers to an esoteric type of cardamom. The resident mixologists at the bar are veterans of the trendy downtown restaurant Freemans and the trendy downtown cocktail lounge Death & Co., and the chef is Akhtar Nawab, who cut his teeth at that seminal haute-barnyard establishment Craft. The softly glowing lounge-style space (which used to house a club where Jimi Hendrix, among many others, performed) contains a big bar up front (where you can addle yourself with archly named creations like “Kentucky Firing Squad” and the absinthe-flavored “Zombie Punch”), the obligatory wood (hickory, in this case) dining tables, and, way in the back, a bustling open kitchen.
The name makes Elettaria sound like a restaurant of the most ambitious, high-minded kind. But the small, truncated menu makes it feel more like a high-minded bar, albeit one serving studied interpretations of expertly pan-roasted sweetbreads (scattered with pink peppercorns), deep-fried quail (sprinkled with pomegranate seeds in a light beer batter), and tasty crépinettes of pig’s trotter prepared in the classic French style. Nawab has run several kitchens around town, but this is probably his most refined cooking to date. The menu contains many South Asian references, some of which feel strained (soggy spinach covered with soggy ricotta balls instead of the usual paneer cheese), and some of which don’t. The best is the duck breast, plated over a cinnamon-and-cardamom-infused interpretation of the ground-meat dish keema, made here with minced duck leg. The slight desserts—fried doughnuts with rosewater, a gummy chocolate financier—make almost no impression. So avoid them, and do what the food savants do. Order another drink.
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