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“10 Downing”

  Occasion: Cuisine: Area: Cost: Rating:
  Night Out New American West Village Moderate Great

A few months ago I was asked by a food website, I think it was, to answer a few questions. One of the questions was to provide a quote that would reflect how I feel about food. I thought a lot about it, and I had a few ideas. I liked the one by Virginia Woolf, “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” That was a good one. Then I thought of Brillat Savarin’s timeless words: “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.” That would work, too, but then I really had one on my mind that I felt more accurately reflected my true life-long philosophy on food. And so I emailed the following answer: “Never eat more than you can lift”- Miss Piggy. What can I say, for better or worse, the epitome of my attitude toward food was memorialized by a Muppet.

So I was tickled to open the menu at 10 Downing, the buzzing American bistro that opened a few months ago after a world of heartbreaking delays, and find that very quote printed across the center of the menu, dividing appetizers like braised beets with ruby red grapefruit and Bayley Hazen blue cheese ($11) from entrees like duck breast with pickled cherries, Tokyo turnips and shallot marmalade ($27). I knew I was in a place that spoke my language.

10 Downing comes to us from a team of three old industry pals—Vincent Seufert (5 Ninth, Rhone), Stephane Dorian (Waterloo and Le Zoo) and Joel Michel (5 Ninth)—who know their way around a hot concept or two. With 10 Downing their aim was to create a stylish and lively neighborhood spot showcasing local ingredients in the same vein as the fabled West Coast favorite, Zuni Café. Along with Meyer Davis, the partners designed the hay-colored space with walls of tall glass French doors (that will open up to a wide sidewalk café as the weather turns warmer), soft glove leather banquettes, and glossy hard wood floors.

At the bar, a smooth slab of grey veined marble, you’ll find a reasonably priced selection of wines (try the Bonny Doone Syrah for $40), and an artisan beers selected by Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery like Smuttynose, Victory Pils, and Allagash White. Those with more of an interest in art than food will relish the chance to take in the works hanging on the walls: a rotating collection, which is curated by Joel’s friend Tracy Williams (of the Tracy Williams Gallery).

While Zuni Café was the i ... [more, click below]

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