In spite of the revelation that the microwave variety, when sniffed at like a basset hound, may kill you, popcorn seems to be having a moment. The restaurants below pop it the old-fashioned, non-life-threatening way, and make a strong case for the fact that the grain is an ideal blank canvas for flavor, adds texture to creamy desserts, and provides a snappy counterpoint to silky seviches.
101 Rivington St., at Ludlow St.; 212-228-0027
Some people like to pop popcorn in peanut oil. Some prefer corn oil. The kitchen at this new Lower East Side gastropub of sorts favors pork fat. For good measure they sprinkle bacon bits and pieces of more pork fat over the finished product the way other popcorn lovers use salt.
65 E. 55th St., nr. Madison Ave.; 212-307-7311
As big a hit in Johan Svensson’s kitchen as it is in the café where it’s served as an amuse at dinner only: “I can’t stay away from it,” says Svensson. “We’re always fighting over it during family meals.” It’s cooked in rendered duck fat and sprinkled with grated Vasterbotten cheese and chopped dill.
Crave Ceviche Bar
946 Second Ave., nr. 50th St.; 212-355-6565
The traditional accompaniment to seviche is popcorn, and this smart little nook of a seviche and wine bar doesn’t stint on the stuff: It’s flavored with ancho chile and served two ways, in a bowl as an ample bar snack, and sprinkled among charred corn kernels in the traditional shrimp seviche.
525 Broome St., nr. Thompson St.; 212-334-5182
At Sam “don’t call it a dessert bar” Mason’s eclectic new restaurant, popcorn plays a supporting role in the caramel panna cotta, and will soon be served with huitlacoche on the forthcoming bar menu downstairs.