Chez Sardine

Gabriel Stulman has built a burgeoning restaurant empire in New York’s Greenwich Village. His assortment of diminutive but bold establishments continue to grow, each kitchen unique with its own perspective. Of his most recent experiments, Chez Sardine, proves to be a success.

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An unapologetic take on an izakaya, the traditional Japanese establishment popular for after work drinks and casual eats, Chez Sardine packages elements of hipster and traditional Japanese cuisine, dedicated to tingle the palettes of those who seek the thrill of the food scene. Employing equal ratios of kitchen novelty along with an impressive French wine and innovative cocktail list, Chez Sardine is not the sort of place to seek a crude piece of hamachi. Here Pacific Yellowtail comes with chicharron and ginger. Sake is limited to one offering, and almost everything is tampered with, served with a twist on the conventional. Sometimes the results are successful, think Smoked Arctic Char, gorgeously treated with sugar, zest of citrus, and crispy rice. However, there are moments when this sort of dramatic composition comes across as offensive. Fois gras grilled cheese will not strike every gourmand’s fancy, no matter how hardly the dish may be marketed.

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As a rule of thumb, virtually everything from Chez Sardine’s sushi bar will not be spurned. Oysters are beautifully rendered with vermouth and brine. Sea urchin is sensuous and delicate. The raw chopped beef it is cinched with surprisingly complements the buttery notes of this culinary delicacy. Pete Wells of the New York Times described the Breakfast Pancakes as “silly and luxurious.” This description is befitting of a whimsical dish that incorporates three tiny pancakes, stacked with raw fish, salmon roe, and lime yogurt. The Miso Maple Salmon Head is menu highlight at Chez Sardine. It is not necessarily the most satisfying, but it is a prototype of what an alternative izakaya may serve. There is much to pick through, a little meat, lots of skin, bone, and even eye to poke about. Using your hands is recommended. Damp towels are available for clean up, and the Molton Brown hand soap in the bathroom is there for a posh hand wash after.

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For those looking to truly bask in the unconventional fusion that makes up this izakaya, opt for the Wagyu Hanger Steak. Served with sherry vinegar marrow butter, and charred romaine, is an American rejoinder, that asserts itself amidst a Japanese atmosphere that boasts French varietals.

Chez Sardine
183 W 10th St
(between S 7th Ave & 4th St) 
New York, NY 10014

© 2014 Faris Habayeb
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