Well, not completely new. The bar and dining room don't seem to have changed much, which is to say that they're kind of spare, not extraordinarily comfy or inviting, looking like someone placed a thin, not very expensive veneer over a much dumpier prior space.
But everything else seems brand-new: menu, staff, cocktails. I was slack-jawed reading the bar, cocktail, and dining-room menus: they have nothing to do with prior incarnations of Dedo.
I remember this chef in his stint at 647, and just missed his work at Kestrel in Providence (literally by about eight hours; we tried for Sunday brunch the morning after they closed forever). There are a couple of hints of that legacy (the "tater tots" accompanying a neighbor's amazing-looking lobster dish), but not much.
The bar staff is a huge upgrade, capable of making the half-dozen "bar chef" creations on the specialty cocktail menu. Not many of these appeal to me -- despite a host of really interesting ingredients, including the juices of two limes I've never heard of before, they tend toward the Cosmo-sweet end of the spectrum -- but I'm really pleased to see the bartender shake up a proper Manhattan for another patron. There's clearly a sense of humor at work here: the chocolate martini has mini marshmallows in it.
I reluctantly choose just one item from the long menu of bar nibbles, the deviled eggs. Three smallish chicken eggs, hard boiled and filled with large-chunk tuna tartare, with chive oil underneath. Glorified cocktail-party finger food, and fabulous. Every small plate looks good on this menu (even that odd sweetbread/mousee thing), and there's a $10 burger, too.
The dining room menu (available at the bar) is likewise full of interesting goodies, like that lobster. I opt for the braised veal cheek app, which comes with a cloud of linguine-thin potato strings, expertly fried, a big dab of a rich French triple-cream blue (St. Andre), and a crouton-like hunk of sauteed French bread. Super-concentrated flavor from the veal-stock-based sauce, a lovely, flavorable hunk of variety meat in the cheek (with short-rib-like graininess). Just a stunning appetizer, rich and complex and pretty on the plate.
Three decent reds, three whites by the glass in the $6-8 range, plus a prosecco. Didn't scrutinze the bottle list, but I'll wager it's mostly in the under-$40 range.
While I'm sorry that the old Dedo never caught on, I'm glad someone has given this place a second chance with a new concept. I know this is a long review for just a couple of bar nibbles (which came to about $30 inclusive with a glass of wine), but it's been a while since I've seen this much novelty and creativity on a menu; it kind of reminds me of my first glance at an early-days Biba menu. I am very excited to return to this place for a full dinner, or a more extended graze with a tableful of people.
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