243 West 14th Street (betwn. 7th & 8th Aves.)
TYPE: Global cuisine VIBE: Moody Meatpacking (sans the velvet rope) OCCASION: Dining in packs or “seal the deal” late-night with a cocktail and dessert
DON’T MISS DISH: Honey’s ceviche trio
DON’T BOTHER DISH: Paella tapas & apple cobbler PRICE: $40 (with a cocktail) HOURS: Monday through Wednesday, 5 PM-2 AM; Thursday-Saturday 5 PM-4 AM; Sunday 5 PM-12 AM. RESTAURANT GIRL RATES: 6 (above average) SEATING: 90 seats & private room in the back (holds 40) FINAL WORD: Eat with a fast crowd – commitment phobic diners can load up on appetizers before taking their place in line at Marquee or Bungalow 8.
Honey isn’t a dining destination per se, but it’s certainly an appealing Meatpacking alternative to the bouncer and velvet rope-plagued, mob scenes of late. Happily lacking the in your face accoutrements of most of its neighbors (Buddakan & Sascha), this warm, candle-lit restaurant lounge is mellowly outfitted with tan walls, brown banquettes and mirrored-walls. In fact, there’s really nothing in your face about this newcomer, except perhaps for the ubiquitous appearance of honey in both the food and cocktails. Matt Shendel, creator of Dip & Cain, delivers Honey, geared toward a hipster crowd, dishing in global cuisine, heavy on the Spanish and Asian influences.
With Victor Rodriguez in the kitchen (Dos Caminos), Honey’s food is worth not overlooking, that is, if you concentrate your efforts wholly on the appetizers, especially the ceviches. A trio of extremely fresh and creative ceviches – tuna colada, shrimp daiquiri and minted snapper – managed to make such an impression on my eating companions, that each argued a different favorite (mine was the tuna colada). Though the strawberry vinaigrette in the shrimp daiquiri disturbed me in theory as another gimmicky ploy to be different, it was nonetheless, a flavorful and plump shrimp offering. Likewise, not a complaint was uttered about the tuna colada, washed with a wasabi-flavored coconut juice or the snapper with mint. Even the warm spinach dip, dressed up with a winter truffle essence, was devoured, pumpernickel bagel chips and all.
If only we had continued on through the appetizer menu, we might’ve sailed through dinner without disappointment. But committed to experiencing Rodriguez’ food and the greatly praised paella tapas (by Rodriquez himself & the staff), we discovered mostly misguided entrees, a perfect example being the paella tapas. Hot on the trail of the recent paella trend, this one came deconsructed, which brought me to the conclusion that paella was never intended for dissection, but rather should be preserved as a celebrated mess of yellow rice with chorizo and seafood buried treasure. However, this Japanese spin, arrived with red snapper atop all too carefully molded rectangles of dry yellow rice, oddly drizzled in honey pimiento coulis, with a side of chorizo . Similarly, I grieved over the wasabi pea crusted ahi tuna – a plate stacked with nicely seared tuna, but poorly paired with a heavy soba seaweed salad and a flavorless maki roll, a thoughtless plate filler. I took no issue with the espresso rubbed kobe flatiron steak, other than the fact that it was weighing down a fluffy plate-sized fetarepa – a fluffy corn pancake with feta and mozzarella cheese – delicately dressed in a white horseradish miso foam.
As for dessert, skip the dry and tasteless apple cobbler, but don’t pass over the “smore-like” molten chocolate cake, layered with graham cracker twile and a velvety marshmallow meringue.
Until we eat again,
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