Cabbing to North End Grill in Battery Park always feels like a trip, but experiencing North End alum Floyd Cardoz’s globally-informed seasonal cooking at White Street (221 West Broadway, 212-944-8378) is transporting. The chef’s turnaround of the former Churrascaria Tribeca, located inside a 19th century red bricked armory south of Canal Street, reimagines the dining room of a gilded subcontinent colonial hotel, with lush flourishes like a stretch of crystal chandeliers, jade curtains and sconces, and a glass-caged wine vault.
But it’s not weary expatriates clamoring around the marble bar for whiskey-punched pale ale cocktails. On a recent visit, free bubbly was flowing for the friends of Cardoz partners Dan Abrams, Dave Zinczenko, and an attentive Christine Cole, as servers in shimmering cocktail dresses catered to the tufted seats up front. Like Abrams’ West Village investment, The Lion, the air here’s more refined than desert must, and even in White Street’s first week, a power crowd dominated the hall of curved banquettes.
We claimed real estate at the bar to sample the menu Cardoz later described to us as “Lespinasse light,” including a full assortment of vegetarian dishes like a heaping purse of local burrata from Lioni Latticini, and some serious home cooking, including an appetizer of high contrast heirloom tomatoes in a sweet bath of balsamic vinegar and coriander. We also dug into one of two vegetarian entrees, a peppery chickpea and quinoa cake, that melts into layers of creamy and acid textures — pickled cabbage, onion confit, and a custardy mustard yogurt.
“I always like to cook like this at home,” Cardoz told us. “And this is too good an opportunity to cook food that I enjoy cooking.”
The restaurant’s other vegetarian entree is hiding among the sides, a meaty head of cauliflower roasted in the restaurant’s pizza oven, then sprinkled with pine nuts, pickled shallots, celery oil, and sage leaves.
Take a deeper look inside White Street on the next page.