New York City’s Greenmarkets are awfully tempting this time of year; an impossibly colorful cornucopia of yellow squash, crisp greens, blood red tomatoes and deep purple plums. But what are you going to do with baby artichokes and dinosaur kale when you spend half your time stuck at the office? Luckily, we live in a phenomenal food city, where those same fruits and veggies serve as inspiration for seasonal (and surprisingly affordable) menus at restaurants all over the city. Here are just a few places guaranteed to please the time-strapped locavore, from Mas La Grillade and Northern Spy Food Co. in Manhattan to Applewood, Rose Water and iCi in Brooklyn.
Northern Spy Food Co.
Northern Spy Food Co. is serious about sustainability — from the reclaimed hickory board floors and repurposed furniture that make up the dining room to the seasonal menu boasting ingredients from nearly three dozen farmers, butchers, fish mongers and other independent and local purveyors. Their drink menu includes craft beers from the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, as well as a carefully selected wine list from mostly natural or biodynamic winemakers in the United States and Europe. Oh, and their low-key Sunday Supper menu is a shockingly affordable $24 with recent highlights including crisp Arugula, Pickled Onion and Pistachio Salad, Pork Leg Schnitzel with Summer Vegetables and Spaetzle, and Pork Meatballs with Polenta and Bitter Greens. Follow it up with simple, satisfying desserts, like Honey-glazed Almond Cake or rich Chocolate Layer Cake with Beet Sorbet. For the most up-to-date menu, you can try calling or checking Twitter after 4pm on Sunday afternoon, or just walk in and be surprised, submitting to the delicious whims of the season.
The West Village tavern, Monument Lane, has brought back the Sunday Supper — adding a distinctly seasonal twist to the weekly family ritual. The three-course, $27 menu is announced via Facebook or the restaurant’s website right before supper time, and past offerings have included Steamed Long Island Mussels, House-smoked Game Hen with Cipollini Onions, Broccolini, Foie Gras and creamy Leek Puree, and a dessert of juicy Peaches served simply with Ronnybrook Farm Cream and Sugar. For a midweek lunch, enjoy their steal of a deal: soup or salad plus half an entrée for $15. It’s hard to pass up sandwiches, like Smoked Local Bluefish with sliced Farm Egg and Organic Greens on Rye, or a Pork Belly BLT featuring Housecured Bacon, Heirloom Tomatoes and homemade Aioli. Wash it all down with either a pint of their featured local draft beer ($4), or a glass of New York State wine ($7). Is that local enough for you?
Referring to a stone farmhouse or small estate where food is grown right on site, Mas (la grillade) holds true to the spirit of its name and that ain’t easy in these urban parts. But James Beard winning chef, Galen Zamarra, is vigilant about sourcing ingredients from the small, organic, and sustainable farming operations that surround New York City, even grilling them over oak and applewood that’s locally sourced, too. (We told you he was passionate.) If you’d rather not splurge on the $78 four-course or $175 seven-course dinner, lunch is a great time to experience Zamarra’s rustic, wood-fired cooking as well. For only $28, you can try standout dishes, like Charred Green and Yellow Wax Bean Salad with Grilled Peaches, Pine Nuts, and a Chervil and Yogurt Dressing, the Grilled Dorade “a la Françoise” with Smoked Bulgur, Artichokes, Okra and Fava Beans, as well as Duck Confit plated with Bacon, Corn and Swiss Chard. Read More
Owners Dave and Laura Shea take their commitment to locally-sourced food so seriously, that they’ve recently added farmer to their resume, purchasing a 2-acre farm in East Chatham, New York. Their two spaces work symbiotically; meat and produce is delivered to the Park Slope restaurant, which in turn, creates compostable materials that support the farm’s growth. Unsurprisingly, Applewood serves a three-course, $30 dinner menu specifically showcasing the bounty of the farm, with mouthwatering dishes, like Fried Eggs atop Butter-Poached Radishes, and a hearty Pork Stew with Lacinata Kale, Cherry Tomatoes, Roasted Fennel and fresh Herbs. Considering what a steal that is, you’ll probably want to treat yourself to the optional wine ($15) or beer ($11) pairing as well!Read More
DBGB Kitchen & Bar
French brassiere meets American tavern at Daniel Boulud’s funky, downtown Bowery joint, featuring house-cured Sausages, juicy Burgers and towering plates of Shellfish. But you don’t need to spend $100 on a Plateau de Fruits de Mer to have a great meal. There’s an incredible, seasonal menu offered for both lunch ($25) and dinner ($38). With the weather getting tragically crisp already, we recommend treating yourself to DBGB’s rich Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Soup, studded with Toasted Almonds and Parmesan Sable, followed by a duo of the Thai-style Sausage (pork, lemongrass and red curry links with green papaya), and the Tunisienne (lamb and mint marguez). We’re especially down with the great local beer selections, including a Pale Ale brewed in the Bronx, and a Sorachi Ace straight from Brooklyn Brewery.
Catherine Saillard is another pioneer on the local and seasonal scene. She’s worked closely with farmers, butchers, and fisherman for the last 10 years, to serve sustainably-sourced food at her charmed, Fort Greene restaurant. iCi is especially worth a visit on Wednesday nights, when they debut a new, three-course $25 menu celebrating the current harvest. How better to get through hump day than with Heirloom Tomatoes, flavored with fresh Basil and Paprika, Deep Cove Oysters with Pickled Yellow Cucumbers, Grass-fed Meatballs with Wild Greens, and Stewed Peaches with Vanilla Whip and Local Honey? If the weather is nice, opt for garden seating in the spacious backyard, decorated with tiny twinkling lights and appealingly fenced in by the high walls of the neighboring brownstones. If you close your eyes, you just might be able to dull the sound of traffic roaring from Dekalb Avenue, and transport yourself to the South of France.
Owners Mark Meyer and Vicki Freeman, the folks behind Cookshop and Five Points, have been committed to seasonal cuisine for over 20 years — way before it was fashionable to love kale. We could easily eat three meals a day at their rustic SoHo restaurant, including brunch and ideal-for-date night dinner. But let’s zero in on their 3-course, prix fixe Market Lunch for just $24, offered Monday through Friday. The menu is hyper-seasonal, so what’s here today might easily be gone tomorrow, but what replaces it is just as exciting as what came before. Expect dishes along the lines of Albacore Tuna with rich Yukon Gold Potatoes, Tapenade and spicy Red Mizuna, as well as homemade Ravioli with Stinging Nettles, Ricotta, Brown Butter and Pistachios. Finish with a choice of anything from the current dessert menu, including summer’s last licks of Peach Cobbler with crunchy Granola Crust or Tres Leches, featuring a fresh Plum Compote, before rolling yourself back to the office.
Owner John Tucker opened Rosewater in 2000, when he saw the need for a local, seasonal restaurant in Brooklyn. Thirteen years later and the Park Slope spot is just one of many farm-to-tables in the borough; although that’s done little to dampen the restaurant’s success. While all menu items completely align with Rosewater’s commitment to locally-sourced food, their three-course prix fixe market menu shines a devoted spotlight on peak produce, all for a bargain price of $29. And now that it’s almost fall, selections include creamy Cucumber Gazpacho, Roasted Chicken, and a rich Plum Cobbler. As the leaves change from green to yellow to red and the air gets chillier, we can expect dishes featuring heartier produce, like apples, winter squash and sturdy greens. As a bonus, the optional wine pairing for $15 also tends to favor New York State wines, making this bargain meal hyper-local indeed.