Sun-Mon, 5:30pm-11pm; Tues-Sat 5:30pm-2am
1 at Christopher St.-Sheridan Sq.
American Express, MasterCard, Visa
Over the past few years, Gabriel Stulman has made a specialty of taking pokey spaces near Sheridan Square, where he lives, and turning them into the kind of hopping, corner-bar destinations that you’re more likely to find in Williamsburg or Fort Greene. His restaurants are tiny, as a rule (Joseph Leonard, on Waverly, has seven tables, Fedora has eight), the menus are filled with hearty hipster staples like braised lamb shanks, brisket sandwiches, and oysters on the half-shell (Stulman’s a former partner in the Little Owl), and in the evenings, the crowded little rooms take on an intimate, almost private-party-like feel. The original Fedora closed in 2010, after a long run serving chopped beefsteak and Italian red-sauce dishes to a devoted, though increasingly antique, neighborhood clientele. In this newest iteration, Stulman has extended the mahogany bar and given the narrow, subterranean space a fresh coat of white paint. The walls are covered in clubby photos of Muhammad Ali, Basquiat, and Mos Def, and the deceptively inventive bistro menu has been designed with an eye toward comfort and heft. On the evenings I visited, the bar was mobbed with scruffy revelers gobbling bluepoints and helpings of fat, golden cod fritters, arranged on wax paper, with pots of fresh whipped aïoli on the side. The surprisingly artful appetizers include an excellent lumberjack version of egg-in-a-hole, which Fedora’s chef, Mehdi Brunet-Benkritly, constructs with a thick layer of toast, melted Cheddar, and a spicy tripe ragout. Brunet-Benkritly comes from Montreal, where he was the chef de cuisine at Au Pied de Cochon. He’s capable of cooking with a light, classical touch, but most of the earthy fusion recipes at Fedora are designed to be consumed in a happy lather, with flagons of ale. If you order the fried chicken leg, it comes over a pile of fragrant, faintly sticky sushi rice, with its gnarled claw still attached. If you’re in the mood for a light dinner, the dish to get is the perfectly crisped arctic char, which is plated with a pile of gourmet-style whipped potatoes topped with crème fraîche. With its nose-to-tail bistro fare and ancient speakeasy pedigree, Fedora can feel, on crowded evenings, like a woolly, cut-rate version of the Minetta Tavern. The bar pours curiously named $13 throwback cocktail creations made with esoteric bourbons and housemade bitters (try the “Black Squirrel” Old Fashioned, with Buffalo Trace and pecan bitters), and the wine list has been designed with the discerning mid-range drinker in mind. The modest desserts include pleasingly rich helpings of “cheesecake” panna cotta buried in cookie crumbs, and fluffy, lemony, made-to-order madeleines, which just might be as fine an example of this antique pastry as you’ll find anywhere in this food-mad town.Note
Fedora accepts reservations up to two weeks in advance, via phone only.