Apiary is the Bee's Knees

The latest New American spot buzzes with life

Sides come with the main dishes and can also be ordered separately (which gives your vegetarian friends at least a few options). There's spiced eggplant—stewed down to silk, with the slightest bitter edge—and fluffy couscous studded with fresh mint and dried apricots. But sometimes, simple is as simple does: Green vegetables like haricots verts and sugar snap peas are barely cooked and arrive fashionably crisp-tender. They're practically crudités—and would taste better cooked longer.

Appropriately enough, given the restaurant's bee-centric name, Apiary's dessert menu showcases honeys of impressive pedigree. The best is the goat cheesecake, a disk of gamey, sweet curds drizzled with lavender honey. The cheese plate comes with a selection of three honeys—on a recent visit: bamboo, summer flower, and raspberry—bought from Andrew's Local Honey and Tremblay Apiaries, both of which sell at the Union Square Greenmarket.

Manacle actually spent four years as a New York City bus driver before decamping to culinary school and then cooking under Bobby Flay. "I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel," he told me. "This is stuff that I like to eat, and if you came to dinner at my house, chances are I'd serve you one of the items on the menu."

Everything's for sale!. And the service is great.
Emily Peet-Lukes
Everything's for sale!. And the service is great.

Good as it is, dinner at Manacle's house doesn't come cheap. A glass of wine, an appetizer, a main dish, and a shared dessert, with tax and tip, rings up to between $70 and $80. When places like Hundred Acres and Brooklyn's James are doing similar food at a lower price point, it's hard not to conclude that Apiary is overpriced.

Still, Apiary offers simple courtesies and straightforward, pleasurable flavors, both of which should be more common than they are.

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