That The Standard, rooted in the meatpacking district, is a beacon not just for tourists but also for New Yorkers can be chalked up to the hotel’s dining savvy — crowds pack the beer garden to capacity year-round, and though we all like to whine about the chaos, most of us find ourselves there from time to time. That begs a couple of questions about The Standard East Village: Will the food and drink options there be as compelling? And, importantly, will they be as thronged with humans?
We’re getting a sneak peek at the answer at Cafe Standard (25 Cooper Square, 212-475-5700), the more casual of the eateries slated to feed the place — the bright, sleek spot debuted on Monday, and it’s open from early morning until late at night (a sibling restaurant, which doesn’t yet have a name, is coming in 2014).
We got the answer to our crowd question quickly: When we stopped by yesterday around 11 for late-night snacks and cocktails, the place wasn’t beergarden-on-a-weekend full, but it was still crowded, with tourists and nightcap-seekers alike commanding plush red bar stools and low tables. We imagine the crowd will grow, too, as East Village drinkers realize you can order from a sizable menu here until 2 a.m. Sunday through Wednesday and until 4 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.
Dovetail’s John Fraser worked on the food board, and you can see his deft work with vegetables — kale stirfry with quinoa, a vegetarian reuben made with cauliflower and sauerkraut, and mac and cheese topped with squash and chilies — in many items on the various lists. That mac and cheese, by the way, is a good option if you need something more substantial late at night; deviled eggs — each topped with a tuft of wispy fried potato strips — or the crisp, pencil-thin fries are ideal for snacking. We’d pass on the unremarkable olives (are olives ever remarkable?).
On the lunch and dinner menus, American fare like salads, calamari, burgers, and sandwiches round out the offerings, and dessert options include devils’ food cake and pumpkin cheesecake.
It’s clear that serious thought went into this bar, too (this is a hotel, after all) — you can pair your meal to an Old World-heavy by-the-glass wine list that includes some offbeat selections, a draft or bottled beer from a short international lineup, sherry, or, best of all, a cocktail. Our new jack rose — applejack, grenadine, and lime — refreshing and tart (and probably better as an aperitif than a nightcap), but we could have sipped the barely legal, a blend of reposado tequila and scotch with a red wine float — all night long.
Cafe Standard is open from 7 a.m. until 2 a.m. Sunday through Wednesday and 7 a.m. until 4 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.