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Vandaag Review


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Vandaag Review

kathryn | | Sep 7, 2010 01:24 PM

Stopped in on Saturday night this weekend to try this new restaurant out. We split a bunch of the smaller plates and the burger, and tasted two of the cocktails. The cocktail list is done by Katie formerly of Clover Club/Mayahuel. It's short but well edited with a few beer and non-alcoholic cocktails that sounded great as well.

The food:

Amuse of baby squid, seared with a sunchoke chip - Great little bite, served warm on a piece of slate

Seasonal Pickle Pot - interesting to see pickled plums, shell peas, in addition to the usual cucumber, the server said the chef buys produce from the Greenmarket and rotates pickles every few days. I really liked the pickled shell peas but the pickled plum wasn't really my thing.

Chilled Cucumber Soup, ginger, mint, gin, pickled cantaloupe, smoked eel - cold, intense, delicious. Maybe too intense for me, I had a few sips and let my husband have the rest, but the pickled canteloupe was lovely and refreshing.

Bitterballen, slow braised oxtail croquet, mustard relish - not creamy enough for me but the outside was perfectly crisp and there wasn't a lot of filler on the inside, it was pretty much all meat, but I found it monotonous after a while.

Hete Bliksem "Hot Lightning" crisp fingerlings, bacon, apple, stroop syrup - really nice use of apples with Benton's bacon, but very rich and heavy and definitely on the sugary side. It was a bit much when paired with the burger. My husband loved this and hogged all of the leftovers the next day, too.

Vandaag "Ham" Burger dutch blend patty, gouda, charred onion - I couldn't detect the gouda cheese but the "hammy" ness of the burger was really great: tender, juicy, flavorful. This kind of odd "funk" that grew on me. Charred onion was perfectly done. I really liked it but it's not a traditional burger. We split this and fought over the perfect potatoes that came with it. Imagine the best home fries ever -- fluffy and tender on the inside, crispy on the outside. I think they poach the potatoes and then deep fry them, so the texture is just right. Really well done.

The Manolin cocktail (akvavit, white rum, yellow chartreuse, lime, grapefruit syrup with essence of kaffir lime leaf) was a bit on the sweet side; however, I really was impressed by the Skookul Punch (applejack, rum, lime & orgeat with absinthe & bitters topped with peach lambic). I look forward to trying more of the beer cocktails in the future. The bartenders looked like they put a lot of care into the drinks -- I even witnessed some orange peel flaming going on while we dined.

Overall, the host and server were very friendly and welcoming, nearly Danny Meyer-esque. The room is handsome, clean, and modern, with huge windows. The window sills are decorated with sunflowers. The serving plates are also quirky and fun, like they raided a funky design store. Each table also got a carafe of water that looked like an opaque water bottle, a nice touch.

Seating is spacious and they gave us a nice corner of the banquette. But while the dining area only got about 60-70% full, the bar was pretty full the whole time, and the use of lots of tile made it rather loud. I'd love to come back when the sun was out, just to take advantage of the large windows. Perhaps Sunday brunch?

103 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

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