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Restaurant Openings & Buzz

Week of April 18, 2005: Bar Americain, Radha, Providence, Partage. Plus, chef John Fraser comes to Compass.

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Openings
Bar Americain
Bobby Flay, Tex-Mex master and brash Iron Chef, squiggled his way to success with squirt-bottle chili-pepper sauces. This week, in the imposing space that used to be JUdson Grill, he tackles the brasserie idiom, American style. That means Gulf shrimp and grits, Fulton Fish Market cioppino, and, in a daring break from ubiquitous fromage, an artisanal-ham tasting. Much of the menu was inspired by the regional foods Flay encountered while filming FoodNation, both near (Brooklyn hash browns) and far (creamed corn with green chilies). The steaks are spice-rubbed, the cocktails are classic, and David Rockwell’s design incorporates that glistening thing no brasserie can be without—a raw bar.
152 W. 52nd St., nr. Seventh Ave.; 212-265-9700


Samosas and stir-fry at Radha.  

Radha
Khalil Houri was one of the original owners of the West Village hot spots Le Zoo bistro and Waterloo, the Belgian brasserie, even though his true heart’s desire lay not in hanger steak or moules-frites but more along the lines of tempeh and tofu. Now, with Radha, a new Lower East Side vegetarian restaurant right in Moby’s Teany backyard, he’s realized his dream. Named for the Indian goddess of love and devotion, Radha is devoted to healthful salads, stir-fries, and snacky appetizers like vegetarian samosas and pakoras. With a $15.95 thali, the menu, like the exotic décor, slants toward Indian, but there’s also an all-American veggie burger, some barbecued tofu, and even faux kofta balls made from grated cauliflower and drizzled with tomato sauce.
173 Ludlow St., nr. Houston St.; 212-473-3374

Providence
In its previous lives, the distinctive West Side space that houses the new Providence has been a Baptist church, a recording studio, and Le Bar Bat. A soupçon of the last tenant’s nightclub vibe lingers in Providence’s multiple lounges and the D.J. booth ensconced in the organ loft. But the reassuring presence of chef Margherita Aloi, late of Arezzo and Le Madri, bodes well for the prospects of a menu she’s calling “coastal European.” Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, and Greece all figure into dishes like Manchego carpaccio with ice-wine-poached pears, paella Valenciana made with fregola sarda, and soy-flour spaghetti with tomato sauce and veal meatballs.
311 W. 57th St., nr. Eighth Ave.; 212-307-0062

AND . . .
Partage, the West Village offshoot of Paradou in the meatpacking district, aims for a French-farmhouse feel with a wood-beamed ceiling, a fireplace, and a rough-hewn iron chandelier. The Provençal-inspired menu mirrors Paradou’s, with tartines, grilled sandwiches, sweet and savory crêpes, and entrées like mussels with lardons and Pernod
92 Seventh Ave. So., nr. Bleecker St.; 212-242-2207.

Compass isn’t new, but the arrival of chef John Fraser, late of Snack Taverna, makes it feel that way. Except for a feta-strewn salad, he’s renounced his Greek influences, opting instead for refined, globally inspired fare like crispy veal sweetbreads with sunchokes, edamame, and truffles, and grilled buffalo tenderloin in a ginger béarnaise. The lounge has taken on a new wine-bar identity, with 45 by-the-glass selections and a casual menu of pressed sandwiches and tartares
208 W. 70th St., nr. Amsterdam Ave.; 212-875-8600.


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