BY CAROLINE BENVENISTE | This past month there were a number of Asian restaurant openings and anticipated openings (Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Thai), but Korean corn dog purveyors took a hit. As usual, coffee spots came and went. In the past, February/March was not a busy time for restaurant openings, but this year there was a fairly high level of activity.
Moody Tongue Sushi – 150 W. 10th St., near Waverly Place
Jared Rouben, president and brewmaster of Moody Tongue Culinary Brewery, is a classically trained chef who attended the Culinary Institute of America and later worked at Per Se. During his training he moonlighted at a brewery and this led to thoughts about the similarities between brewing and cooking, and how high-end ingredients could be incorporated into beer to create different styles, including beers that would be served at higher-end restaurants. In 2013 he started Moody Tongue Brewery in Chicago, and two years later he and his partner opened a tasting room. In 2019, they moved to larger quarters and added two restaurants, one formal and one casual, both focused on pairing the beers with food. They earned two Michelin stars in 2021 and 2022, and this February they opened in New York City. They had planned a New York location for a while, but the pandemic delayed things. They wanted to be in the West Village, and the old Highlands space fit their requirements perfectly – with a bar on one side and a dining room on the other (mirroring their setup in Chicago) and large windows opening onto a typical West Village street. It is already almost impossible to secure a reservation, but if you can it is well worth it. The experience is not cheap, but it is unique. The beers are unlike any I’ve ever tasted. The waiters are well informed about the beer and menu and have helpful pairing suggestions. Most of the sushi was outstanding. There is a nigiri section, a special nigiri section and hand rolls to finish up the meal. Not everything works – while the torched scallop was delicious, the torched otoro (fatty tuna) would have been better untorched. The owners have been touched by the support of neighbors – many have stopped by and been very positive about the restaurant’s arrival. Jared Rouben has moved his family to New York, where he will be spending a lot of his time, while traveling back to Chicago to work on the beers.
Lin & Daughters – 181 W. Fourth St., between Jones and Barrow Streets
This Chinese restaurant serving “Dumplings, Noodles and Comfort Food” opened in mid-January in a small space a few steps up from street level. The interior is bright and cheery, with a small number of tables and a few more seats at the counter. If you sit at the latter, you will probably see the dumplings being made. They are the best things on the menu – certainly try the shrimp dumplings with lime chili sauce and the pork-and-chive dumplings. The peanut butter noodles were served warm (a nice touch) but I would have preferred a slightly thicker sauce. Still, they were quite pleasant, particularly when enhanced with a bit of homemade chili oil. The restaurant seems quite busy and certain items tend to sell out.
Kerber’s Farm – NYC – 264 Bleecker St., between Cornelia and Morton Streets
Kerber’s Farm is a longstanding working farm and farmstand in Huntington, Long Island. They are known for their pies, biscuits and egg sandwiches. Their West Village store is bright and cheerful, and a great breakfast destination. They offered fried eggs on a cheddar buttermilk biscuit (one, two or three eggs), with other add-ons, such as cheese, bacon, sausage and more. The biscuits are light and flaky, the eggs are cooked just right and the bacon is extra crispy. Their sweet pies look tempting and also come in mini sizes suitable for one. A selection of savory pie pockets with fillings like pulled pork, chicken and spinach round out the menu.
Moshava Coffee (47 W. Eighth St., between Sixth Avenue and MacDougal Street) is in soft-opening mode. This Jews for Jesus-owned spot (“moshava” means “village” in Hebrew) has also been holding knitting sessions on Wednesday evenings. A Madman Espresso truck has taken up residence in Astor Place in front of the subway entrance. A Village Sun reader alerted us to the opening of Euljiro Korean Bistro (70 Seventh Ave. South, between Commerce and Barrow Streets), where Oh K Dog used to be (and before that Ramen Thupka). For such a tiny place, there is quite a large menu with many traditional Korean and Japanese dishes and also a fairly extensive sushi menu. And finally, SJP Collection, Sarah Jessica Parker’s flagship store, has opened at 385 Bleecker St., at Perry Street. On her Web site, Parker describes her philosophy: “It houses all of my favorite things under one roof — from shoes to fragrance to accessories.” During the lead-up to the opening, she has played up the “Sex and the City” connection: “Round the corner from the stoop of a gal I know well and a neighborhood we are thrilled to call home.” Previously tde (The Daily Edited) sold leather goods in that space.
Chelsea Market Changes:
In the last couple of months a number of changes have taken place at Chelsea Market (75 Ninth Ave., between 15th and 16th Streets). Joey Bats, the pastei de nata (Portuguese custard tart) bakery has opened a stand. Ayada Thai, the excellent Thai restaurant that expanded here from Queens, has expanded again into a neighboring space that used to be part of Blackbarn. The new concept, Ally@Chelsea Market, is a more lounge-like space offering cocktails, wine and beer, as well as the regular Ayada Thai menu. Lower East Side icon Economy Candy has opened a small store called A Taste of Economy Candy, selling mostly the retro candy selection they are known for. Unfortunately, they do not carry the bulk items, like dried fruit, nuts, candies/chocolates and halvah, that are available in their main store. French-Vietnamese bistro Le Song, which closed in 2020, is being replaced by a new concept by the same restaurateur, Peter Tondreau. Tondreau has many other projects in the market, such as Tings, Very Fresh Noodles and crepe spot Bar Suzette (which has also moved to a new space that has expanded seating and a bar). His new restaurant will be called Maki A Mano and will specialize in maki and hand rolls. Those who were enthusiasts of Arcade Bakery in Tribeca and who mourned its passing will be excited to learn that Amadou Ly, who was a baker at Arcade, will be opening his own spot, ALF Bakery, downstairs in the Chelsea Local. According to his Instagram page, he will sell bread, pastries and sandwiches.
Brooklyn Kolache has ended its short run at 185 Bleecker St., at MacDougal Street. Ninano (61 Grove Street at Seventh Avenue South), a Korean tapas bar with a large soju menu that opened about a year ago, has quietly closed. Home decor store Jonathan Adler has closed up shop at 37 Greenwich Ave., at Charles Street. Sandbar on Hudson (637 Hudson St., between Horatio and Gansevoort Streets) is shuttered. It started as a pop-up in the High Street on Hudson space during the pandemic and was a collaboration with the folks at Pizzeria Brunetti just south on Hudson. Lucky Louie (535 Hudson St., between Charles and W. 10th Streets) served fried chicken many ways, but it has been dark for the last few weeks and the phone has been disconnected.
Last month, The Village Sun featured a “West Village Pizza Roundup.” Soon it will have to be updated to include two illustrious newcomers: as reported in Eater, Mama’s Too (Manhattan Valley) and L’Industrie (Williamsburg) will be opening locations in the West Village. Mama’s Too will serve pizzas at 323 Bleecker St. (where clothing store Variazioni used to be), but the location of L’Industrie has not yet been revealed. Bangkok Supper Club will open at 641 Hudson St., between Horatio and Gansevoort Streets. In the Community Board 2 application for a liquor license, they describe themselves as “an upscale, authentic Thai restaurant with small sharable plates… .” The same owners also operate the successful Noho Thai spot Fish Cheeks. Previously, Günter Seeger, the well-regarded Michelin-starred restaurant was offering tasting menus there (up to 12 courses) until it closed in April 2020. A new coffee shop called Bedford Studio will be opening on March 4 at 62 Bedford St., at Morton Street. Jones Road Beauty, a clean beauty company founded by Bobbi Brown (who left her namesake beauty company in 2016) will be opening in the old Jonathan Adler space, at 37 Greenwich Ave., at Charles Street. Nuts Factory, a store designed to recreate the experience of shopping at a market in the Middle East, will open a branch on Bleecker Street near Carmine Street. The shop sells nuts, dried fruits, spices, grains, halvah and more in bulk. Pop Up Grocer (205 Bleecker St., at Sixth Avenue), which ironically is not a pop-up, will be opening in early March. According to their Web site, the store will carry hard-to-find products made by independent brands and there will also be a cafe and pastries. The large bilevel space was most recently a Le Pain Quotidien, and before that an American Apparel store and a Banana Republic, which then became a Banana Republic Monogram, carrying the more luxurious and expensive Monogram collection, which no longer exists. Donna was a well-regarded bar in Williamsburg which closed in December 2020 and will be reopening in a different format at 7 Cornelia St., between Bleecker and W. Fourth Streets. The venue promises to be “a tropical oasis transporting you somewhere special.” The new iteration was “reestablished as a worker-owner cooperative business.” It will occupy the space vacated by Uncle Chop Chop.
One of my neighbors told me that Village favorite Tavern on Jane (31 Eighth Ave., at Jane Street) was struggling and that there is currently a GoFundMe set up to help them. The appeal describes the financial difficulties that Michael Stewart, the owner, faced during COVID and how he did not receive any money from the Restaurant Relief Fund, which has led to a situation where “now his original loan and revenue losses are well over 2 million dollars.” Across the street, Italian red sauce joint Arthur & Sons (38 Eighth Ave., at Jane Street) has expanded into the next-door space that had been a pop-up art gallery for the last few years. Anytime Street St. Marks (34 St. Mark’s Place, between Second and Third Avenues) pivoted from Korean corndogs to cupbop (Korean rice bowls) that are priced at around $9. Cornelia Street Cafe (29 Cornelia St., between Bleecker and W. Fourth Streets) closed in January 2019 after 41 years in the Village. The space has remained empty until now, but recently workmen were spotted inside and they said that a new restaurant/bar would be opening there in the next six months.
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