Recette: A Raucous Recipe for Success?
The West Village has a new cozy French/American eatery, Recette, and it’s just different enough to distinguish itself from the masses of cute haute gastro spots that dominate the Village dining scene (the little owl, Pasita, The New French, Gottino, Cafe Condesa, Casa, Perilla, and so on and so forth). Snug as a bug on the corner of W.12th and Greenwich St, Recette keeps it simple with large unadorned windows, simple wood tables, an open kitchen, and a tiny bar near the door.
The first noticeable thing about Recette is the noise. It is really loud. The chitter chatter and pitter patter hits you smack in the face as soon as you walk in the door. Just trying to communicate with the hostess requires lots of shouting and motioning. Luckily, the tables are small enough to hunker down over for a real conversation; however, if you’re with a large group, be prepared to scream your way through dinner.
The food is good, even inspired. Chef Jesse Schenker makes the most of mini portions (read: small plates that have passed through a “Honey I’ve Shrunk the Kids” machine), blending ‘urban American’ flavors with a marriage of both traditional and modern technique. What this means is that pretty much anything goes. In line with current trends, Recette offers the obligatory cheese and charcuterie plates. They are a bit anemic, especially when compared to the abundant cheese and meat options out there currently. The cheese platter (a selection of four) was tasty if not limited, the clear favorite being a robust Shropshire Blue. In terms of the charcuterie, go for the foe gras terrine, which is rich and luxurious, unless you’re feeling adventurous enough to sample the tete de cochon (pigs head).
The “plates” section of the menu range from tiny bites to ‘generous tapas-size’ (essentially, everything’s itsy bitsy). The Hamachi crudo with uni, blood orange, jalapeno, and mache (a delicate leafy lettuce) was divine though notably not nearly enough for a meal. These days, anything with uni or sea urchin captivates me, and the artful blend of sweet, sour and fresh flavors made this a stand-out dish. The poussin with baby winter vegetables, ‘pot of grits’ and grain mustard soubise was more sized for dinner, yet still tiny and, unsurprisingly, difficult to eat. The generous ‘pot of grits’ actually came in a cast-iron pot, piping hot and delightfully grainy.
Desserts are a must-try, especially the deconstructed ‘S’Mores’ dish with graham cracker ice cream, toasted marshmellow, and a chocolate wafer. For drinks, expect exorbitant prices for such a humble spot. The cocktails run around $12, and the bottles of wine will put you out between $40 and $60 (or even higher, if you really want to pay for some vino).
Recette is dark, cozy, and quintessentially ‘West Village.’ It walks the fine line between comfortable and pretentious with almost overly artful small plates, pricey bottles of wine, and a boisterous cheerful ambience. If you can handle the hubbub, Recette is a great spot to drink wine and laugh loudly with friends, to linger over homemade ice cream and cheese squares until close, and to steal kisses in a corner with classic champagne cocktails.