An Early Taste of Chalk Point Kitchen, Now Open in Soho
Be forewarned: If you're planning to eat at Chalk Point Kitchen (527 Broome Street, 212-390-0327) in these early days of its existence, you'll need a reservation -- when we showed up yesterday, wandering in through its SoHo entrance sometime around 6 p.m., even the bar seats were booked. And though the hostesses sat us (reservations or no, the space was empty that early in the night), our table came with the stipulation that we be out quickly.
That's easier said than done: The menu here is conducive to sharing many dishes over several courses, and the room itself -- cozy, banquette-lined, and farmhouse-like with a large center table -- will make you want to linger. Servers are conversational, and owner Matt Levine, previously of Cocktail Bodega and Sons of Essex, works the room, asking tables for feedback in a manner that invites discussion.
So while we ate as quickly as possible -- and had an abbreviated meal -- we finally left a full 40 minutes after we'd agreed to be out of the table (though the hostesses' never rushed us, so perhaps there was a cancellation).
Chef Joe Isidori (formerly of Arthur & Sons) has previously described Chalk Point as a place where "Chinatown meets the Union Square Greenmarket," but the menu reads more New American with pan-Asian influences. Mussel broth swims with kimchi, nam pla sauce dresses grilled squid, and falafel makes the menu alongside a beet and blue cheese salad, lobster, and chicken liver mousse.
We worked our way through the small plates and snacks; highlights included those mussels and that falafel as well as Montauk pearl oysters topped with a little curry and salmon caviar and the house made burrata paired to fenugreek and cucumber. We'd skip the speck next time; we liked the accompanying tart apples, but the whole dish came under a snowcap of parmigiano, which added superfluous flavor and made the slices of pork difficult to eat.
Green juice aficionados should check out the kale martini; cucumber, celery, lime, and kale juices blend with apple vodka and ginger beer. Otherwise, the drinks list is a collection of twists on classics, like the Bayard farm margarita -- which adds lemon, orange, wasabi, and horseradish to the traditional quaff -- and the Union Square Market old fashioned made with muddled red pepper. An abbreviated by-the-glass list is spieled by a server right now, and the bar currently serves just one beer: Red Stripe, in bottle.
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