Friday night revolved around sister bonding time and a really fabulous meal. My younger sister, Leigh, arrived home from finishing freshman year at USC in the wee hours of the night and after a day of beauty sleep, made her way back into the city. She met me and my work friends for a quick margarita, before heading downtown to the East Village for dinner. I have been attempting to make my way to Northern Spy Food Co after reading about its wonderful farm to table menu and fun atmosphere. At 10:15pm we finally arrived.
The restaurant is gorgeous and rustic. The wooden tables, white brick walls and dim lighting create this atmosphere that gives off the perfect homey country vibe. We both immediately felt right at home in the intimate, beautiful setting right in the heart of the East Village. We sat at the bar quickly while waiting for our table to be ready and started off with a drink. It’s wine and beer only, so it’s fun to see how they can put a spin on limited options.
It was a perfect way to start the meal off, as we glanced over the small, but complex menu. Eventually we sat down and decided to begin our culinary experience with a cheese board.
The simple cheese, made locally in Brooklyn, is delicious and creamy. Then the light apricot compote gives it a sweet touch. The combination of the fruit, cheese and baguette is just wonderful. I think cheese plates are the absolute best way to start off any meal.
From what I had read about Northern Spy online, the pickled eggs were a must try. It would not have been anything Leigh or I would have picked on our own, but I am so glad I tried out this delectable treat. Plus, the color alone was so funky and interesting in and of itself.
I really enjoy a great hard-boiled egg and was more or less addicted to egg salad sandwiches as a little kid. The picked eggs were a fun, colorful twist on a classic favorite.
When the dish arrived, I felt like I was about to indulge into a left over Easter Egg. The color was fabulous! It was so pink and playful, you couldn’t help but just smile. Leigh had been a little bit convinced by my blogging self to order this dish, so I felt like my reputation was a bit on the line. I absolutely loved it, dipping each silky, but slightly acidic bit into the sweet, creamy aioli. The vinegar taste of the onions was a perfect contrast, making this a simply wonderful dish. Leigh didn’t love as much as I did, but she still thought it was fun.
We next ordered the beet salad, both intrigued by the goat’s yogurt listed on the menu.
The presentation was bright and colorful. I feel like that’s always one of the wonderful, added benefits of farm to table eating. You can almost feel as if the vegetables were picked right from the garden out back, even though we are in the middle of Manhattan. The beets were cooked to perfection and the variation between the golden and red beets added that perfect color and slight change of sweetness and flavor. The creamy goat’s milk yogurt was a whimsical play on the typical goat cheese and beet combination. Plus the little crunch and bite of the arugula took one of my favorite dishes over the top.
The best, most memorable dish of the night was the crispy potato gnocchi with brussels sprouts.
My mom constantly laughs that in our household, the dish that is always gone before my Dad even gets home from work are the Brussels sprouts. That’s right. It’s a weird obsession of ours, but my family can never get enough. Leigh’s screen name back in the AIM, AOL 4.0 days, was “potatolover6” and a potato lover she has always been. So this dish combined some of our favorite things. Plus, a brown butter sauce and sage can always bring a dish to a whole new level.
I could eat the gnocchi for hours upon hours, day after day. It was that good. The creamy potato inside, with the subtle bites of the crispy brussels sprouts combined with the buttery sweet sauce and the spice of the sage. It was unbelievable. Leigh’s favorite dish of the night by far. If the restaurant wasn’t so far from home and work, I would go back and get the gnocchi as take out and be the happiest girl in the world.
Of course, we needed a fun side. And duck fat fries were just so intriguing, we needed to try their playful spin on a staple.
The best way to describe the potatoes, were super potato-y. Unlike some kind of shoestring, limpy fries, these were packed with flavor and huge. We dug right into the crispy outside in the warm, soft middle. Dipping into the sweet aioli, we smiled bite after bite, while going back to the gnocchi, leaving us both in a potato coma.
The whole meal was wonderful. The company was even better. Our first of many wonderful food adventures in NYC together this summer.
Northern Spy Food Co. – 511 East 12th Street – New York, NY
Northern Spy Food Co.
Location: East Village, NY
Type: New American
Perfect For: Farm to Table, Casual Meal, First Dates
Reservations: Recommended via OpenTable
Favorite Dishes: Crispy Gnocchi, Duck Fat Fries, Golden Beets