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East End Kitchen – A Few Tweaks Away From Perfection

September 2, 2011

After walking as far east as the city permits, I was instantly excited the minute I saw the façade of East End Kitchen. A polar opposite to the collegiate bustle of Second and First Avenues, I had arrived at what I hoped would be my new favorite restaurant. I was in Ina Garten’s Hamptons Home, where the charm of the West Village had finally met the sophistication of Park Avenue. It was a page out of the Restoration Hardware catalogue. The clientele were the lovely neighborhood inhabitants of East End Avenue townhouses, alike Sutton Place and Carnegie Hill. Needless to say my dinner date, Abby, and I were giddy with excitement. Then we looked at the menu, to which I felt the cocktails were specifically created for just for me:

Mixed Blues (Citadel Gin, blueberry puree, radish simple syrup)

Jam and Bread (Chopin Vodka, watermelon puree, habanero simple syrup)

Garden State (Kila cava, sugared tomato puree)

Unfortunately the bartender ran out of the blueberry puree, so I ended up ordering my second choice, Jam and Bread, swapping out the vodka for tequila. It was delicious, but I have to say they designed their cocktails well, because I actually enjoyed my sip of the original drink, ordered by Abby, more than my rendition; touché.

Now on to the menu: it kept getting better. The names of the Farms from which the produce was sourced jumped off the page. The option of a grass-fed burger solidified my content. However, my hopeful expectations may have exceeded reality when our meals were served.

Watermelon and Goat Cheese Salad (Satur Farms arugula, microgreens)

Ordered because I wanted arugula, I was disappointed when neither arugula nor microgreens made it on the plate. Instead I was given mixed greens, fresh as can be, but not what I wanted. I also would have liked double the four dime sized dots of cheese present on the plate. The salad was beautifully composed, but not an accurate product of the menu description.

Manx Station Farm Grass-fed Beef Burger (heirloom tomato, gruyere cheese, ‘secret’ sauce)

As my plate was placed down on the table before me, my first thought was: seriously lame, grocery store caliber, sesame seed bun. However, the thick slices of tomato and cheese atop a perfectly cooked, delicious burger made the mediocre bun a fleeting thought. Ironically, the flavor of the aioli based ‘secret’ sauce evoked the feeling of biting into a fast food burger, yet I contentedly enjoyed my sustainable choice, cruelty and guilt free. The whole package, bun and all, was delicious.

Château de Lascaux (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre) 2009, Coteaux du Languedoc, France

Lovely: well balanced, dry.

I am eager to go back to East End Kitchen. The ambiance is perfection; I wouldn’t have changed a single thing. All restaurants have to work out their kinks in the initial stages of opening, and after just one month, East End Kitchen is off to a great start.

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