I would never have found, County, an adorable, farm-to-table Flatiron Restaurant had it not been for my friend, Jana. It’s one of those New York City places that gets lost in the fray, not gaining the big name notoriety like it’s similar competitors. Maybe that’s an okay thing, for selfish reasons, keeping the huge crowds away and allowing tables to be a little bit more easy to come by. I think the name, County, does the restaurant a disservice, needing more specifications on your Google search even when you know what you are looking for.
Once inside, you immediately wonder why you’ve never ventured here before. The owner and chef, Jan Feshan, formerly worked at ABC Kitchen and the influence is clear. Restored wood covers the entire restaurant, with recycled light fixtures adding to the rustic charm.
The large group of us headed toward the back, where a long table was set up right next to a floor to ceiling mirror, giving the illusion of a bigger space. It’s a relatively small restaurant, yet the space feels comfortable and far from cramped.
The wait staff is young, and their inexperience shows. They can be a little bit slow, a little bit sloppy (knocking over water without immediately bringing a cloth to clean up), and lack a full knowledge of the menu. For a big group of girls, we didn’t fully notice the lacking service, but on my parent’s recent visit to County, the service was so spotty that it tainted a delicious meal.
They have an impressive cocktail list, putting twists on classic drinks, which seems to be all the rage these days. Never did I think my drink of choice in a city of endless liquors and opportunities would slowly become an Old Fashioned. I remember in Bartending School a few short years ago, this was the drink we had to learn to make ‘just because’ and would never actually use. Now, it’s reworked into every menu with some type of subtle twist. At County, candied ginger adds an element of sweet and spice to the traditional smoky cocktail.
We ordered a series of appetizers for the table. The best dish of this round was the insane fresh made riccota.
Amazing. They serve their creamy, homemade ricotta in a style that looks similar to hummus, extremely silky and smooth. The cheese is coated in a layer of honey and then topped with red pepper flakes and mint. The different flavors, spicy and sweet, plays highlights the ricotta. Charred house made bread also adds another element of texture and smokiness.
We also shared a colorful beet salad.
Both yellow and red beets make this already colorful dish pop. It’s the exact type of ‘salad’ or vegetable dish you would expect at a restaurant that prides itself on fresh ingredients. The beets are roasted, sweet from the hazelnuts and creamy creme fraiche. It’s simple, yet impeccably prepared.
For my main dish, I opted to order the black cod, a stray from my traditional love of all things meat.
The portions are relatively small for an entree, but once again absolutely gorgeous in color and plating. The crispy pieces of cod are coated with a beautiful spice rub, adding a little bit of heat. The medley of vegetables underneath the fish are fresh, covered in the unusually green sweet onion puree. It’s a really lovely fish dish.
There are really playful vegetarian options, as well. Like my friend’s Roasted Veggies and Quinoa dish.
Of course, to celebrate the birthday girl, a big bowl of profiteroles coated in chocolate sauce, was 100% necessary.
County is the perfect place for a really fun, delicious birthday dinner. The atmosphere allows for a loud chatter without feeling like you’re completely disturbing the surrounding parties. The food is fabulous, especially the appetizers. My only criticism is the service. If County found a wait staff dedicated to the success of the restaurant, this place could easily become the next hot spot for a fun girls’ night or even early in the game date nights. Delicious appetizers, cocktails and adorable decor proves to be a winning formula, just fix the last component. There’s a reason Service gets its own section on Zagat’s surveys.
County – 34 East 20th Street – New York, NY
Location: Flatiron, NY
Type: New American
Perfect For: Farm to Table, Casual Meal, First Dates, Big Groups
Reservations: Recommended via OpenTable
Favorite Dishes: Ricotta, Grilled Edamame, Roasted Beets