An East Village neighborhood gem that I could return to over and over again is Alder. The restaurant’s aesthetic is sleek and minimalist, but the food is vibrant and exciting. The focus is on small plates with mostly familiar and accessible foods, but prepared and presented in a unique and special way.
To start off, I had a cocktail. One of the things that I think is brilliant that Alder does is, they offer a few of their signature cocktails in half portions aka, “shorts”. This is ideal if you’d like to try a couple cocktails but maybe only consume one drink total, or, if all you need is a liiiiiiittle bit more to top you off, order up shorts. I got Dr. Dave’s ‘Scrip Pad (rye, yuzu, amaro, smoked maple). It’s great, it’s a tad sweet, a little hint of fruit and smoke. It’s almost like a smokey fruit punch.
First off the food menu, I had the Cured Red Snapper (black garlic, fennel, timut, orange vinegar). This was incredible. The snapper is raw, perfectly sliced, tender and flavorful. The fennel is shaved into these thin ribbons, with this amazing citrusy vinegar flavor. And smeared at the bottom is a black romesco, which, I would absolutely love to purchase a jar of, it’s that good. It’s nutty, it’s sweet, a little savory and pretty ridiculous.
Then, I had their Pickled Beets (coconut ricotta, thai basil). The beets are a little sweet and citrusy, and go so nicely with the coconut ricotta which is textured similar to a smoother cottage cheese and slightly sweetened from the coconut.
Lastly, I had…sorry, I just blacked out thinking about this dish. It was, one of the best things I’ve eaten in a while. I had the Octopus (chorizo, sweet potato, banana). The flavors, the textures, the way each ingredient is prepared, it’s all perfection. The octopus is tender and flavorful, then you coat it in the sweet potato puree which is delicious and slightly sweet. And then, to add another texture to the dish is the banana, which is just like a banana chip, crunchy and sweet.
Location: 157 Second Avenue, NYC
The Long and Short: Would I go back? It was not my first time there, and it will certainly not be my last.
Would I recommend it? Absolutely. And please, whatever you do, get the octopus!