Mon-Fri, noon-11pm; Sat, 10:30am-3pm and 5pm-11pm; Sun, 10:30am-3pm and 5pm-10pm
1 at Houston St.; A, B, C, D, E, F, M at W. 4th St.-Washington Sq.
American Express, MasterCard, Visa
Vicki Freeman and Marc Meyer settled on Hundred Acres as the name for their MacDougal Street venture, which once upon a time was a bistro called Provence. Frisée salad has been replaced on the menu by dandelion greens, and instead of plush banquettes diners now perch on rickety chairs and hardwood benches. Devotees of the venerable French restaurant may also be saddened to hear that the lovely garden room in the back is now lined, like a greenhouse, with a row of hastily assembled potted plants. The sky-blue façade of the old restaurant has been covered with a coat of piney-green paint, and the ceiling is the color of an old military tent. Inside, various props have been placed here and there in an attempt to give the rooms that folksy, barnyard feel. There’s a farm table displaying pots of fresh radishes, wedges of cheese, and a pie or two, and as you peruse your hand-scrawled “market-driven” menu, you can admire bleak, artsy photographs of what appear to be derelict farmhouses on the wall.
Most of the food at Hundred Acres is reasonably priced, solidly prepared, and sometimes even pleasing in an unobtrusive, neighborly sort of way. My deviled “farmstead” eggs seemed to have been refrigerated a few hours too long, but the oysters (from Island Creek, near Cape Cod) were fresh, and so was the three-bean salad, dressed with ramp relish and crumblings of blue cheese. Ersatz country favorites like thick-cut, semi-mealy fried green tomatoes are also featured on the menu, along with oversalted fried chicken, and properly scrawny hunks of rabbit, which come either grilled or fried in a crunchy buttermilk batter. Country lamb is another Hundred Acres favorite (if they’re serving the braised-lamb-shoulder special, order it), although I liked the seafood items best, particularly the rose-pink, crispy-skinned chunk of arctic char, which is set in a spicy Mediterranean-style stew.
If you wish to enjoy your meal at Hundred Acres in placid, semi-countrified solitude, go at lunchtime, because at the dinner hour things can get a little insane. I dined at the bar one evening amid a horde of yammering banker couples, and if you procure a table in the back rooms, be prepared to shout over the steadily rising din. Maybe it’s the eclectic, Eurocentric wine list (the one conspicuous holdover from the bistro days) that draws the crowds, or the house cocktails (like the vodka-spiked “Hard Lemonade”), which tend to be served in glasses the size of pickle jars. Or maybe it’s the modest desserts, one or two of which actually taste like they may have been baked on a real farm. I enjoyed a taste of authentic peach cobbler one evening, and a generous wedge of fresh-baked blueberry pie smothered in house-made vanilla ice cream. Best of all, though, is the rhubarb “crostata,” a strudel-like creation topped, in the familiar barnyard style, with a little cloud of freshly whipped cream.Note
Save some cash for the simple, well-chosen, Eurocentric wine list.Ideal Meal
Oysters, arctic char or rabbit, blueberry pie.