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stellar meal at Black Tree

debinqueens | Feb 25, 201411:24 AM

Been meaning to check out this relative LES newcomer, and finally got to stop in last night -- with uniformly positive results.

It's a smallish place, 8-10 tables, long bar, dark, rustic décor, quiet, well-chosen music selection and overall nice vibe.

The guys behind the operation are devoutly locavore without being pretentious about it (some sourcing is mentioned on the menu, but not to the level of being tiresomely minutae-driven). The menu changes every two or three weeks, according to the owner, who came over a couple of times to check on our meal.

we started with a shared order of burrata - a nice, intensely creamy ball accompanied by a warm, crusty small loaf. a good appetite-whetter.

moved on to sandwiches. I've been veggie-deprived the past few weeks, so I opted for the squash sandwich -- a rough mash of several varieties, delicata, hubbard and some others, topped with toasted squash seeds, thin sliced chips of same, fresh mozzarella and a handful of herbs (sage dominant) on a ciabatta. the essence of winter veggie captured perfectly, and enough textural variation to keep things interesting.

my GF opted for the Winter Pig - beer braised pork belly, sliced a bit thinner than usual and very tender, matched with baked apple, pickled apple, cheddar and mint. had a nibble of the pork, which I plan on trying next time around, and was very impressed.

the biggest winner, for both of us was the one dessert on hand -- a s'more with brownie topped with a house made brown sugar marshmallow offset with a scattering of sea salt and a house made graham cracker. warm, melty, sweet, salty and comforting.

impressed by the food as well as the service/interaction. our server seemed really interested in what she was doing, and the food she was offering. she answered every question we had, and was actually conversant in details of preparation and ingredients. the chef came out near the end of our meal (it was approaching closing time, and there was only one other table of diners) to talk as well. asked about how we liked the food, what we might add or subtract, what we'd like to see served...the friendliness was so non-lower east side, so anti-hipster (despite the beards :) )....reminded me of a small town church supper (although I don't think many of those places have Fourtet on the jukebox).

131 orchard, just above delancey.

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