Walking down Orchard Street, the various awning signs made it clear that I was in Chinatown. I ventured downtown to meet my friend, Amber, for dinner at The Fat Radish, a trendy, rustic spot. My confused continued to grow to the point where I even checked my location on my iPhone. When I saw gorgeous couples standing outside a dark wooden door and large windows, I knew this place was different then the past four blocks. I found it.
Once inside, the restaurant’s feel was radically different then the outside world. The gorgeous white-washed exposed brick (my favorite), small candles, wine bottles, mirrors, and beautiful flower bouquets gave a feeling of subtle elegance. The ceiling windows allowed for natural sunlight to shine through making me feel as if I was in a hidden backyard garden. It was stunning.
After a long day of work, I was in need of a refreshing drink. I contemplated ordering their special Watermelon Beer, but it was in a can and I was too nervous to take a risk. I settled on the Mint Lemonade.
With one sip, I felt refreshed and rejuvenated during this never-ending heat wave of a summer. The sweet soda, with the acidic lemon and always refreshing mint created the perfect summer beverage. It didn’t even need vodka, but that was just an added bonus. We sat on a ceramic window seat, while we waited for our 8:30pm reservation.
We arrived a bit early, our stomachs grumbling as the smells of delicious food permeated across the restaurant. After what seemed like an eternity, we were seated in at a small wooden table. I snagged the coveted bench seat, sat back and glanced over the menu. The flavor combinations seemed to be the most standout aspect of the restaurant, along with their local and house made ingredients.
The waitress’ enthusiastic attitude and vivid descriptions of the dishes raised our levels of excitement. We continued to look over the menu and determine what to try. Before we even ordered, the bus boy placed a plate of radishes in front of us. How appropriate? Radishes instead of bread; I was into this meal already.
I enjoyed the crunchy, oven roasted bitterness of the radish. The tapenade tasted especially fresh and delicious, causing for me to lick it off the plate. I love olives.
We ordered the crostini to start, along with the rest of our dishes. The waitress offered to stagger the food, since we planned to share all the dishes. Exactly my kind of place.
The two large pieces of crostini were placed right in front of us. We smiled together, saying that the dish perfect for us, made for two.
At first, I attempted to tackle the crostini with a fork and knife. Quickly I traded class for sticky fingers, digging into the dish one big bite at a time. The fresh, creamy homemade ricotta could have stood on its own. The sweetness of the honey and crunch of the walnuts made the most perfect bite. I kept smiling with glee as honey dripping down my face and my fingers were sticky sweet with local, delicious honey. The crostini started off the meal right, making me anxious for the next round of food.
Next, the salad portion. We ordered Ahi Tuna and Kale Caesar Salad. We started with the tuna.
The unique combination of district flavors melded together and simply put, it worked. The Ahi Tuna was cooked to perfection, with the slight crust and deliciously red and raw inside. The essential essence of heat came from the chili oil, as well as the stringy pieces of ginger. The contrast and combination of the two radically different elements of heat and spice built up the flavor of the tuna. Then the mild, cooling watermelon acted as the perfect counter balance to the intense flavors, as well as the cooling cucumber. The dish proved to be the ideal summer salad.
As an individual very much on board the kale bandwagon, I needed to try this dish.
Piled high, this dish elevated the traditional, lunch room staple of a Caesar salad. The light pieces of kale were perfectly dressed, with the combination of shredded egg and parmesan making its way into every bite. I ate all of the salty anchovies with the dish, giving it that perfect spice. And finally the delicious croutons soaked up the flavors, giving that essential crunch to the dish. This was definitely far from ordinary.
The one dish the waitress insisted we ordered were the scallops. The components as described on the menu seemed intriguing, but I was slightly nervous with the combination of flavors.
The sweet, creamy components of this wonderful, unworldly dish still make my taste buds dance with just a simple thought. This dish proved how such different components can produce a culinary harmony of epic proportions. The wonderfully pan seared scallops were cooked to perfection. The corn polenta stole the stage as the star of the dish. The creamy corn melted in your mouth, but then came the braised brisket. The taste of bbq and textures came together as if the most perfect bar-b-q meal combined together for someone lacking the ability to chew. But it wasn’t mushy. There was just the most perfect balance of textures, cream and intense flavors. Along with the light scallop and fresh watercress, this memorable dish stood out like no other.
We both sat back, beyond full and satisfied. Although the dessert menu seemed equally extraordinary, our stomachs new better and it was time to call it quits, until next time. The meal was delicious, wonderful and unique. The best part was also that the waitress forgot to charge us for a glass of wine, always a nice surprise at the end of the meal. For the quality of food, the price was beyond reasonable. It was so wonderfully delicious and the value and experience made me able to leave just as happy; although, I did opt to take the subway home from the Lower East Side.
I highly recommend The Fat Radish. It’s perfect for a date or night out with friends. They have large tables (and will definitely save it for you, as we learned the hard way). It’s a fun, hip atmosphere and the food reflects nothing short of mad, culinary genius.
The Fat Radish – 17 Orchard Street – New York, NY
The Fat Radish
Location: Lower East Side, NY
Type: New American
Perfect For: Date Night, Girls’ Night Out, Adventurous Eating
Open: Mon-Tues, Thurs-Sun (Closed on Wednesdays)
Reservations: Recommended via OpenTable
Favorite Dishes: Scallops with Corn Polenta, Kale Caesar Salad, Ricotta Crostini