Genuine Superette‘s (191 Grand Street; 646-726-4633) honey-colored communal wooden tables, metal-can napkin holders, cassette collection, and simple black-and-white menu evoke the 1970s. The Superette, open for two months, is the younger sibling of the original Genuine Roadside, located at Gotham West Market. While Roadside leans more toward comfort food, Superette is California-inspired, with a vegetable-forward menu.
Executive chef and business partner Brad Farmerie’s original plan wasn’t to become a chef. He was attending Penn State for mechanical engineering and cooking to pay his bills when he decided to take a year off to travel to London. Farmerie ended up staying there for eight years, attending Le Cordon Bleu and cooking in restaurants. Eventually, he was lured back to the U.S. by his brother, part owner of the architecture firm AvroKO. The AvroKO Hospitality Group was born after the firm designed and built the award-winning Public, its first restaurant, twelve years ago. Since then the group has opened seven restaurants, including Superette.
The menu at Superette reflects the way Farmerie eats at home. “I eat pretty lightly, a lot of vegetarian, at home,” he says. “So when we created Genuine Superette, we wanted to make sure there were lots of cool vegetarian items always on the menu — lots of colors, flavors, textures — which is kind of what you want when you’re eating vegetarian.”
Farmerie feels vegetarianism is an area that’s often neglected by chefs. “I think a lot of them don’t give much thought to it,” he explains. “People veer towards stereotypical things, like salads and grilled vegetables and things like that. Giving it some thought and the creativity that it deserves is kind of cool, and it shows your depth as a chef. It shows that you’re challenging yourself and your guests to try something new.”
Superette’s tangy fried green tomato sandwich ($6.89), one of two vegetarian sandwiches on the menu, is a variation on the typical veggie burger, layering fried green tomatoes, avocado, jalapeño mayo, lettuce, and tomato on a buttery, toasted potato roll. The crisp edges of the roll contrast with the creamy avocado, and the fried tomatoes remain crunchy on the outside and juicy and soft inside. Jalapeño mayo adds a welcome touch of heat to the sandwich.
The 50/50 fries ($4.67), half white and half sweet potatoes, are crisp and slim-cut, and served with a zesty ranch aioli.
The other substantial vegetarian sandwich option is a portobello burger ($9.64) piled high with the mushrooms as well as swiss cheese, sour dill pickles, lettuce, tomato, and a special house sauce. In keeping with the Cali-inspired theme, the restaurant has a California kale salad ($12.86): crisp baby kale, avocado, peppadew peppers, alfalfa sprouts, cotija cheese, hard-boiled egg, and crunchy toasted pumpkin seeds.
Superette recently introduced a few new dishes, swapping out a carrot ginger soup ($5.97/$9.18) for a creamy vegan tomato soup. Also new is an organic quinoa salad ($12.86) with pickled fennel, zesty lemon, fresh watercress and parsley, and golden raisins.