Years ago, my dad and I had gone to hear his old dental school roommate play with a band in the basement of Acme, a New Orleans restaurant, boasting a Cajun-Southern menu and decor to compliment. I had just turned 21, so we shared a beer inside, and then went to go hear the band.
When my friend, Amber, suggested we eat at the hot, new restaurant Acme, I had zero clue that I was going to the same place from years earlier. However, this version of Acme has been completely revamped to the point where the similarities end with the title. Gone were the gold, purple and green beads and Mardi Gras masks lining the walls. Instead, the entire interior was redone, including the bar’s complete relocation and was alive with crowds out the door. For 10:30pm, the only time we could get a reservation in this East Village spot, the place was crowded and full of trendy people. I definitely feel on a whole new level of “cool” when I go out to eat after 10pm, instead of being in PJs watching a rerun of Friends in bed.
We sat down at our table, near the front of the restaurant. The dark lighting and wooden tables gives it a rustic feel. The restaurant now serves dishes inspired by local, seasonal ingredients with a Nordic flare, with the new head chef from Copenhagen. We glanced over the menu, slightly overwhelmed with the unique choices and intriguing dishes listed before us. I ordered the Foxy Brown cocktail to start and continued to glance over the mouthwatering menu.
The combination of the ingredients created an intense flavor of ginger, sweetness and acidity; the perfect drink for a tequila lover like myself.
We decided to be slightly adventurous in our eating endeavors. We started out with the ever so daunting, Duck in a Jar.
I don’t know what I was expecting, but this dish was taken very literally; a duck, in a jar. But boy was this good. The duck retained all of its flavor and moisture having soaked up all of the juices from the pickled vegetables. The veggies included cabbage, carrots and radishes, giving this earthy flavor to the duck. The fat seemed to have reduced with its time in the jar, allowing me to pick out just the meaty, flavorful pieces. I dug into the jar, sticking the oversized spoon all the way down to the bottom, where the good stuff resided. Then I scooped up some of the cabbage on top, and placed it all carefully onto my toasted piece of bread. Biting in, the flavors all meld together. If this is a duck in a jar, I want them lined up in my cabinets. This was delicious.
Next, we ordered the Ravioli. The one large piece with parmesan cheese piled high was placed in front of us.
We carefully tried to figure out how to split the piece without losing any of the loose yolk so carefully cooked inside. With one swift motion, my half was on my plate, oozing out creating a sauce with the brown butter. The flavors completely came together, especially through mixture from the egg inside. It was the perfect amount and the combination of yolk and parmesan made me lick the plate clean.
For our main course, we ordered the sea bass. We had first thought about the chicken and eggs dish, but the waiter’s reaction told us to steer clear. We also went for the smoked cabbage as our side dish.
The sea bass was delicious, but for me, it was the cabbage that stole the show.
The Sea Bass was cooked to perfection, with a crispy skin, complimented by the array of fresh vegetables and flavors. It literally melted in your mouth with the fish falling apart in the best of ways. The flavor felt earthy and homing, lacking any heavy feeling. I felt refreshed after each bite.
But like I said, the cabbage seemingly became one of the best vegetable dishes I have ever had.
I’m not even sure what made this dish so outstanding, but I could not stop eating it. The smokiness worked so well with the typically earthy, crispy cabbage. The crisp outside, with rich soft parts worked so perfectly. The pine nuts put the dish over the top. I’m not even sure what the foam on top was made of, it just helped to bring out the natural flavor of the cabbage. Cabbage should always be prepared this way. My mouth is watering thinking about this the moments before I dug into a dish that would change my perspective on cabbage for a long time. It was absolutely delicious.
The meal was fun and the place was really cool and trendy. It was definitely on the more pricey side and not necessary topping my list of favorite new Manhattan finds, but some dishes were extremely memorable and could be a reason I would come back if asked again. Overall, it’s a fun, newly revamped spot, completely different from the days of sipping beer under Mardi Gras lights.