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“The Smith”

  Occasion: Cuisine: Area: Cost: Rating:
  Night Out New American East Village Moderate Good

seem ordinary, but it’s not. It combines the classic tomato soup and grilled cheese combo with a fun riff on French Onion Soup. It’s sort of a cross between a tomato sauce and a tomato soup that’s thick, rich and velvety smooth, capped with a crusty slice of bread and a bubbly blanket of cheddar cheese. Sink a spoon into that cheese and you pull out a taffy-like stretch of hot gooey cheese with your tomato soup, so it’s almost like a soup-as-pizza pie.

While the tuna tartare ($10) was rather ordinary, the string bean salad ($8) was quite the opposite. In fact, it shocked me with its flavors and textures. It combines slim, snappy beans with sugar-sweet cherry tomatoes, crunchy toasted almonds and a soft mound of tangy grated ricotta salata. Craig, who I have never known to get excited about string beans unless they are somehow secreted inside Buffalo Wings, was up for seconds. He even commented about the salad’s composition. “These almonds really make the salad. They add a crunch that’s really wonderful,” he said, seriously. Craig was also down with the lamb schnitzel ($17), a fun twist on the classic veal, pounded thin and crusted in a wafer-like crunch of Parmesan and bread crumbs over smashed skin on potatoes with a few wedges of lemon. He picked one up and squeezed the juice over the top, adding just the right bright burst of acidity to the plate.

I had to laugh. This is strange behavior coming from a guy who dined on Happy Palace Chinese every night before we met. Lemme tell ya, we had a lot of tutoring before he knew who Danny Meyer was, and what restaurants Marc Meyer and Vicki Freeman owned, what the Momofuku was, and what the letters BLT stood for. It took a few months before he realized that pork belly was pretty much the same thing as bacon, gnudi were like naked ravioli, and that John Dory was a fish, not a guy. (The first time pan-seared John Dory was offered to him he looked horrified.) So, he’s come a long way folks. But then again so have I.

My vocabulary has grown to include phrases and terms I’ve never before used. Take the phrase Gator Bait. Unbeknownst to me, this is not a food that is used to catch alligators. This is a term used to describe anyone who is not a part of Gator Nation (fans of University of Florida’s teams.) Fascinating. Here’s another one. Ocho Cinco. No it’s not the number 85. It’s the knick name for wi ... [more, click below]

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Other restaurants in East Village :
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