You’re probably not going to care much about how the food is at Miss Lily’s 7A (109 Avenue A, 212-812-1482); whether you like the place or not is much more likely to be predicated on whether or not you like the vibe. The original Miss Lily’s on Houston built a celebrity following, and the place imported its social capital to the East Village. Stop by on a weekend night, and you’ll find the joint bumping like a party you have to know someone who knows someone to attend.
Here, a beautiful, scene-y crowd is served by a beautiful, scene-y staff; the women servers strut by in four-inch heels, and the men look like they moved here from Miami — and possibly brought the beach with them to their New York apartments.
You’ll find the music cranked to match the loud decor, which channels a colorful Caribbean beach hut, if you turned the volume of that beach hut up to 11. A back alcove is lined with turquoise booths, where wood paneled walls give way to rainbow-striped ceilings, and multi-colored tiles cover the front section; they’re hung with vibrant posters, curtains in a multitude of patterns, and other kitsch.
You’ll put your name in with the model hostess, and then, because you’ll certainly have to wait, you’ll make your way to the bar, where you’ll order a cocktail from the rum-centric list. If you’re averse to sweet tipples, you might want to stick with beer — both our rum old fashioned and the watamelon were made with what tasted like a diabetes-inducing amount of sugar.
By now, you’ll have decided whether you like it here (and for what it’s worth, on a warm night, with a breeze blowing through the space, we found the energy infectious), and then you’ll be led to your table to consider food, which is coming from a kitchen under the control of Adam Schop, who came to New York by way of D.C.
Like the original, Miss Lily’s 7A deals in Caribbean fare tempered by some New York sensibility (see the kale salad and the patty melt, for instance) — and many, though not all, of the dishes are copies of menu items from 7A’s sibling.
Start with the jerk grilled corn on the cob or a messy mound of pepper shrimp. Moving next to a platter of smoky jerk chicken and a side of sweet plantains is a classic move, and not a bad idea, but our best dish of the night was the buss up shot, which matched a soft roti-like flatbread (that’s the buss up shot, by the way) to grilled shrimp and a nicely nuanced curry vegetable stew, thick with peas and potatoes and tongue tickling with heat. You can order that stew on its own, and that’s likely what we’ll do next time — especially because it still comes with that buss up shot, which adds nice chew to each bite.
Finish up with the toffee pudding — like a sticky toffee pudding, with the bread pudding doused in caramel — or an ice cream sundae, which comes topped with pineapple and a ginger snap. And then stick around for one final drink and notice how it feels like the party is about to start.
Miss Lily’s 7A is open for dinner nightly. Breakfast, brunch, and lunch are coming soon.