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The Best End-of-Summer Dishes

1Now that we’ve all begrudgingly entered back into our regular work and school routines, the leisurely days of summer already seem like a thing of the past.  But there’s one thing we’re just not willing to let go of quite yet, and that’s luscious, warm weather produce.  So until we start seeing apples, kale and pumpkin taking over restaurant menus, we plan on eating every last end-of-summer dish we can find, including the Toybox Tomatoes with Burrata at Piora in the West Village, Peach Gazpacho with Basil at Dovetail, and the Summer Squash Panzanella at Parish Hall in Brooklyn!

Kajitsu

Kajitsu
125 E 39th Street
Murray Hill,New York 10016
(212) 228-4873

We don’t tend to go in for vegetables and soy proteins masquerading as meat.  Which is why we love Katjitsu’s commitment to Shojin cuisine — a type of vegetarian cooking originating in Zen Buddhism.  Chef Masato Nishihara is classically trained in the tradition of Kaiseki, multi-course meals in which vegetables are lovingly and respectfully showcased.  The seasonal menu changes each month, so make a reservation this September if you like the sound of Shiizakana and House-made Soba;  an intricately arranged plate of Oyster Mushrooms tossed with grated Black Daikon, Mountain Yam dabbed with Wasabi, Malabar Spinach and Cabbage in Umeboshi Puree, Burdock Root Tempura, and a Chrysanthemum Sushi Ball.

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Dovetail

Dovetail
103 W 77th Street
New York 10024
(212) 362-3800

We’re eagerly awaiting John Fraser’s debut in The Standard Hotel, where he’ll work with produce culled from owner Andre Balazs’ farm in the Hudson Valley.  But until then, his Upper West Side eatery, Dovetail, remains one of our most dependable sources for elegant, vegetable-focused cuisine… particularly on Mondays, when one of the proffered tasting menus is entirely meat-free.  Start with a Peach Gazpacho with Avocado and Basil, followed by an Eggplant Terrine spiced with Zataar, and finish with the Ricotta Agnolotti interspersed with Blueberries, Truffles and Corn — if you close your eyes, you can pretend it’s still the height of summer.

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Piora

Piora
430 Hudson Street
West Village,New York 10014
(212) 960-3801

The market-inspired fare at this new West Village restaurant has both Italian and Korean influences.  And no, we’re not talking about spaghetti sauced with kimchee.  Chef Christopher Cipollone (formerly of Tenpenny) and owner Simon Kim fuse their disparate cultures in subtle and nuanced ways, as evidenced in a salad of Toybox Tomatoes with Burrata, Basil and Sesame, a tumble of Bucatini tossed with Black Garlic, Snow Crab, Maitake Mushrooms and Chilies, and Scallops dotted with Sweet Corn, Chanterelle Mushrooms and crispy Chicken Skin.

The Fat Radish

The Fat Radish
17 Orchard Street
Lower East Side,New York 10002
(212) 300-4053

A favorite of Lower East Side locavores, this consciously hip eatery (it wouldn’t be out of place in Williamsburg) puts a healthy spin on British comfort foods.  Never thought you’d crave Pot Pie in 70-degree weather?  You’ll salivate over their Sweet Pea version, brightened even further by Crème Fraiche and Mint.  It’s true that you won’t be doing your waistline any favors by getting the Chips (unapologetically fried in Duck Fat), although you can always redeem yourself by ordering fish.  It’s not Deep-fried Haddock, but Block Island Swordfish, served with Market Peppers, Eggplant, and Smoked Paprika Jus.

The Cleveland

The Cleveland
25 Cleveland Place
Nolita,New York 10012
(212) 274-0900

This intimate Nolita restaurant doesn’t go in for bells and whistles.  The décor is minimalist (flowers in mason jars on small wooden tables) and standby bistro items, like Chopped Salad, Roasted Chicken and Steak Tartare, are simply prepared.  But when you put superlative ingredients in the hands of a talented chef (Tal Aboav, from Balaboosta), the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  Try an Heirloom Tomato Panzanella moistened with Herb Pesto and topped with Manouri Cheese, Pasilla Chili-rubbed Skirt Steak accompanied by Snap Peas and Asparagus, and homemade Pasta strewn with Fava Beans, Golden Beets and Meyer Lemon — ideally enjoyed in the bucolic back garden for as long as the weather allows.

Bergen Hill

Bergen Hill
387 Court Street
Brooklyn,New York 11231
718-858-5483

The baroque Brooklyn branch of The Bourgeois Pig wasn’t long for Court Street.  But cocktail impresario Ravi Di Rossi (of Death & Co., Cienfuegos, and Mayahuel) has retained his lease, and transformed the space into the decidedly less flashy Bergen Hill.  Instead of hyper-colored Tiki drinks and calorific cauldrons of fondue, restrained, herbaceous libations are meant to be paired with plates of raw shellfish.  Order an Ecuadorian Beer with Pilsner, Tequila and Ceviche Broth Syrup alongside Shrimp with Marinated Veggies and Leche de Tigre, and a Poppy Gibson with Aquavit, Blanc Vermouth and Cucumber to accompany your Beet-cured, Tzatziki-topped Salmon.

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Red Gravy

Red Gravy
151 Atlantic Avenue
Brooklyn,New York 11201
(718) 855-0051

Admittedly, the name Red Gravy conjures images of rib-sticking platters of sauce-laden pasta, not delicately composed appetizers and entrees bursting with market freshness.  And yet, A Voce veteran Ayesha Nurdjaja demonstrates a light touch with largely Southern Italian dishes, like a crunchy Crostini topped with Grilled Figs and Ribiola, Roasted Corn and Tarragon tossed with tender, hand-cranked Cavatelli, and a sprightly Contorni of Fava Beans, Peas, Squash and Mint.

Parish Hall

Parish Hall
109 N 3rd Street
Brooklyn,New York 11211
(718) 782-2602

You’d be hard pressed to find a more produce-focused restaurant in Brooklyn, considering how much of it comes from owner George Weld’s 6-acre farm upstate.  You’ll discover the fruits of his labors in Heirloom Tomato Salad with Cucumber, Arugula and Basil Oil, Ribeye
 with Summer Squash Panzanella, Burnt Eggplant and Celery, and a hearty, vegetarian melange of Hen-of-the-woods Mushrooms, Farro, Clothbound Cheddar, and Goatfell Farms Lettuce.

 

 

 

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