Chinatown’s Little Brunch Gem: Dimes

Name: Dimes

NGM Rating: B+/A-

Restaurant Inspection Rating: Grade Pending

Website: http://dimesnyc.com/

Location: 143 Division Street, NY, NY 10002

Cuisine: Eclectic and Health-conscious

Owner/Chef: Alissa Wagner and Sabrina DeSousa

When did it open: September 2013

Ambiance:  This tiny restaurant gem on the edge of Chinatown attracts the ‘cool’ hipster crowd of the LES. You have to pay attention as you turn the corner on Division Street or you’re likely to miss it. … I pretty much did. The signage is discreet and you wouldn’t think to see a popular restaurant among the other storefronts lining the street. When you walk into Dimes, you’re immediately immersed in the close-knit community of this restaurant. … whether you want to be or not. The dining room is very small and the tables are cramped together to accommodate a modest crowd. It’s difficult to ignore other table’s conversations or notice the plates being passed around – acai bowls, chia pudding and eggs in a variety of eclectic preparations. Each table I noticed was either filled with laughter, people entrenched in some deeply intellectual conversation or a twosome simply enjoying afternoon brunch with a friend they hadn’t seen in a while. Very pleasant vibe even given the lack of elbow room.

Menu highlights: Navigating the menu here was fun. I basically didn’t recognize three-quarters of the menu and used the advice of my server to guide me. I mean. … do you know what to expect from an acai bowl? Well now I do, and I urge others to try one of four options at Dimes. The eggs any style were simple – mine served over easy – but came with savory roasted tomatoes and greens that were pretty darn tasty as garnishes. I also added half of a sliced avocado for $2.50. … why not, right? The seven-grain toast here is also spot on – thick, grainy, healthful goodness. Love it when restaurants get bread right. I don’t really think you can go wrong with much of what Dimes has to offer in the Brunch department. It’s not your typical NYC brunch, but it’s darn tasty. … and apparently healthy too!

What I didn’t get to try: I ate at Dimes for Brunch so missed the opportunity to sample any of the dinner options. I didn’t hit most of the brunch menu too and at a place like this you kind of want to sample all the options. I am still curious about the chia pudding, quinoa porridge, egg sandwich, Sayanara Summer Tacos and the assorted chilled beverages (those looked particularly interesting.

Constructive criticisms: It would be nice to have a little more space when eating, but I don’t think that’s what Dimes is going for. The restaurant is meant to be cozy and collegial, with the humming of people’s conversations heard throughout the room.

Best for: Brunch for two. … or any meal for two (groups are tough), hipster hang out, going off-the-beaten path and a healthy food fix.

Dress Code: Vintage tees, over-size sweaters, leggings, jeans and booties

Average Pricing: Brunch items: $10, Juices: $4, Cocktails: $9, Appetizers: $11, Entrees: $18. Very reasonable!

Reservations: No reservations. Tables on a first-come-first-serve basis.

 

 

What’s New In Pizza @ Marta

Name: Marta

NGM Rating: A-/B+

Restaurant Inspection Rating: A

Website: http://martamanhattan.com/

Location: 29 E. 29th Street, NY, NY 10016

Cuisine: Trendy Pizza Joint

Owner/Chef: Danny Meyer and Nick Anderer (also the chef from Maialino)

When did it open: September 2014

Ambiance: Cool, trendy and bustling with fun. The restaurant fits very well with the sleek look of the boutique Martha Washington Hotel. The restaurant’s dining room is very open when you walk into the lobby and all the tables are filled with the NYC chic enjoying their wood-oven pies. Simple and yet clearly all the rage.

Menu highlights: Tartufato pizza…wow! ‘Tis the season for white truffles after all. Typically, I  am opposed to spending $60 for pizza – and yes, I still realize how obscene it sounds – but Marta really did this one right. …and I was out for a celebratory occasion.  Melts in the mouth, not too overpowering and a great combination of ricotta, fontina and, of course, those delectable truffles. The chef actually comes out and shaves the truffles table side. That must be where the extra $30 goes! The “pasta” meatballs were also a cool, new concept – fried balls of pasta topped with Marta’s house made tomato sauce and parmesan. Other menu highlights include: the Bruschetta Strappata, Capricciosa Pizza, Mized Autumn Squash and Ice Cream Panino.

What I didn’t get to try: Coppa Cotta Pizza, Patate all Carbonara Pizza and Abbacchio Misto.

Constructive criticisms: It gets really noisy in the dining room. A great sign for a new restaurant, but difficult to hear when you’re trying to have an engaging conversation at your table. The bar area is a little cramped, so I wouldn’t suggest waiting for a table and expecting to have an easy-going drink at the bar while you wait. There is, however, another bar in the hotel’s ground floor so the key may be to put your name down and chill there. Lastly, Marta could also up the dessert game. … not enough optionality in that department.

Best for: A fun night out, checking out a new hot spot, hotel dining, group occasion or you’re in the mood for food as simple as pizza in an environment where you still feel chic and “in the scene.”

Dress Code: The best version of your trendy self. It’s a pizza joint, but it’s an upscale one, and one where patrons dress to impress.

Average Pricing: Cocktails: $11, Appetizers: $13, Pizza: $17 , Entrees:  $28, Dessert: $7

Reservations: Marta accepts reservations on OpenTable but it’s already a hard seat to get. If you look online right now through the next 30 days you’ll see a lot of 5 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. slots available. A tell-tale sign that this place has taken off very quickly. Book early or show up and brave the wait times.

 

A New Take on Southern Comfort @ Root & Bone

***UPDATED ON 4/7/15 WITH NEW RATING AND OTHER COMMENTS***

Name: Root & Bone

NGM Rating: A-/B+

Restaurant Inspection Rating: A

Website: http://www.rootnbone.com/

Location: 200 E. 3rd Street, NY, NY 10009

Cuisine: Southern Cooking

Owner/Chef: Jeff McInnis and Janine Booth

When did it open: July 2014

Ambiance: Total rustic farmhouse feel. I am actually pretty fond of what they’ve done with the small space. Antique china, awesome light fixtures and lots of wood. … can’t say rustic without wood, right? If you are only with one other person, and the weather permits, definitely try to sit at the long high-top table along the window sill. Great for people-watching, fresh air and a relaxing way to enjoy a meal here.

Menu highlights: Fried chicken, fried chicken, fried chicken. Get it? Order it! And if you really want to go over the top, order the cheddar buckwheat waffles to accompany the chicken. Yes, there are a lot of other delicious things on the menu here too. Like, fried chicken and waffles of course! Biscuits also complement the chicken well. The restaurant has changed the menu since I went but there was also a delicious grilled peach “Caprese” salad. The Caprese part wasn’t your typical buffalo mozzarella, but rather a fried ball of pimiento cheese – inventive, over-the-top and delicious all in one bite. On my most recent visit, the menu was updated and Root & Bone served an amazing butternut squash served with a pepper marshmallow. Sounds a little strange, but the flavor made my eyes pop (in a good way). Lastly, don’t leave without a cocktail. Men, you’re officially warned, some of the drinks come in very girly glasses (or teacups even) so you might want some guidance from your server.

What I didn’t get to try: Waffle fries, cheese grits, deviled eggs, and, most importantly, DESSERT! I was too full by the end of the meal both times i’ve dined at the restaurant. They had some killer looking ones.

Constructive criticisms: The major disappointment for me was the BLT, which Root & Bone has since rotated out of the menu. While I had solid service on my first visit to Root & Bone, I have since been disappointed on a subsequent visit. My waitress was short, rude and clearly had no interest in her job. We were in the middle of eating our appetizers when she brought out our entrees and just tried to shove them on our already over-crowded table. When we asked her to send them back to the kitchen, she refused and left the food there to get cold as we finished our appetizers. I really like the food here and think the ambiance is great, but this experience tarnished my high opinion of the place.  Go at an off-peak time so you avoid long waits due to lack of reservations. Generally, my feeling is this place is a newcomer that’s sure to be a hot spot for some time.

Best for: Fun night out, casual meal with friends (small groups are better), casual date, weekend brunch, fun celebration and for those yearning to try out a great new spot. Also, Root & Bone has a late-night menu, live music and bar specials during the weekend until 2 a.m. I haven’t taken advantage of this yet, but hope to soon.

Dress Code: Flannel and jeans. Ladies, throw on some fun boots or heels to make it interesting.

Average Pricing: Cocktails: $13, Appetizers: $12, Entrees: $25

Reservations: Reservations now available on OpenTable.