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Inside dinnertable, NYC’s First “Reverse Speakeasy”

2ade48667a9cb9b37504ef48dfee2c1bThere’s nothing clandestine about the goings-on at The Garret East.  Make your way through the well marked doors, and you’ll find the music pumping, the crowds bumping and everyone drinking, all in perfectly plain sight.  But if — perhaps in a boozy search for the bathroom — you happen to stumble your way past an inconspicuous curtain, you’ll stumble upon a single, discreet buzzer on a wall, enigmatically demanding that you “Push For Food.”

Once granted admittance by a trim, clipboard-toting hostess, it might take a moment to adjust your eyes to the genteel, candlelit glow of dinnertable, unnamed New York’s first “reverse speakeasy”; an intimate, otherwise unadvertised restaurant, surreptitiously hidden in back of a dim and rowdy saloon.  Comprising just 20 seats, arranged at a duo of tiny two-tops, a narrow, communal table or a high, galley kitchen-adjacent bar, the no-reservations eatery is manned by husband-and-wife team, Scott Tacinelli (formerly of Quality Italian, Park Avenue and Quality Meats) and Angie Rito (also a vet of Quality Italian as well as Torrisi Italian Specialties), whose top-selling Lasagna Bolo for two — saucy, garlic bread-topped, cheese-caramelized pinwheels — pleasantly perfume the room.

Similarly rustic, vaguely eccentric options like a plate of mussels, propped on wadded tinfoil and stuffed with pepperoni-inflected IMG_1713rice, further the illusion of having attended an informal soiree, in some culinarily capable friend’s kitchen.  But the majority of the menu quickly betrays that this is a strictly professional effort; think a mosaic of translucent Scallop Crudo, pebbled with uni and chili breadcrumbs; a Caesar-inspired salad, made with wide, peppery leaves of Chrysanthemum; tissue-thin Eggplant Carpaccio, augmented with farro, spicy peanuts and fresh mint, and toothsome soldiers of marble rye, mounded with a melting, roughly-cut Tartare, fashioned from smoked short rib and spiked with horseradish (oh, and did we mention that you can add Kaluga Caviar to anything for a $50 landscape-1459199785-e7a8934surcharge?)

So let the crowds continue to unsuspectingly booze it out up front and migrate out for pizza afterwards. Dinnertable will just be our little secret.

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