F, V at Lower East Side-Second Ave.
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The San Francisco–based artist/co-owner of Preserve24 has fashioned his space as something of an art gallery where diners just happen to slurp down oysters and feast on seasonal vegetables. The bi-level Lower East Side eatery is a maze of metal saws, upturned canoes—and there’s even a piece of a glacial iceberg designed to be an environmental art exhibit. The first floor includes a modest dining room, an espresso and breakfast pastry bar, and a traditional bar complete with globes, lanterns, and nailed-up binoculars. Diners can sit up here to marvel at the recycled a ceiling fan made out of baking paddles, or old piano pedals that have been turned into bar taps. The expansive downstairs dining area is furnished with random bits of refurbished metals and woods to create a quirky rustic vibe centered on the open-air kitchen. The menu reflects the funky down-home American atmosphere with seasonal sides like mushrooms and ramps, both cooked in cast-iron skillets. A whole porgy is flaky and moist, dressed with muddled tomatoes, while house-made macaroni is long and delicate, served with guanciale, lardons, and Ouray cheese for a rich bite. Spunky cocktails pay homage to the spot’s nautical artistic ambitions: The Compass Rose mixes bourbon with bitters and strawberry-rhubarb preserve, and a long whiskey list will please many sailors-slash-diners. Desserts like homemade ice-cream sandwiches and chocolate bread pudding make for a comforting end to your visit.Recommended Dishes
Roasted asparagus with a sunny-side-up egg on a toasted truffle baguette, $13; whole roasted porgy, $22