Later that day, i met up with Christa for some food and drinks at Chez Sardine.
You might have heard of Gabe Stulman if you dine around the West Village. Stulman owns Perla, Joseph Leonards, Fedora, and Jeffrey's Grocery. He latest project is an "inauthentic izakaya" on the corner of West 10th St. Chez Sardine is tiny, only having 30 seats between the bar and tables but as Stulman often does, he turns cramped into cozy. We got here early and got two great seats at the "sushi bar" which overlooked the kitchen. After looking over the menu and sipping on some cocktails, the place was packed. Our server, John, fit the bill for Midwestern--a type that attracts to the Stulman restaurants. The staff were all laid back and super friendly.
The cocktails are all pretty well balanced and unique. Walking With A Panther mixes gin, fresh oj, pomegranate, fernet branca, and twizzler bitters while Cousin Scotty Fails His Driving Test brings together bourbon, carpano, sake honey syrup, and bitters. If you didn't want gin or whiskey you could get the Exceptional To See You--blood orange infused tequila, negroni syrup, and fresh grapefruit. Their wines by the glass were all French except for a German Pinot Noir. As far as beers, they had four on the list and only one was domestic--an IPA from Seattle. But if you wanted to more of a traditionalist you could drink sake. But the drinks are not whats important at Chez Sardine--its the food!
I was pleasantly surprised that they start you off with an amuse--marinated daikon with bonito flakes. Following the amuse, we got the chopped scallop with quail egg and trout roe alongside the spanish mackerel which was paired with crispy leeks and potatoes. We were then handed a pork and unagi hand roll, which were sent out compliments but later appeared on the check. Despite feeling cheated, I thought the roll was delicious. Barbequed eel with braised pork belly, avocado, spicy mayo all wrapped in nori. Brussel sprouts roasted with apple and brown butter came out next with charred octopus (bacon, lettuce, and tomato). Next up we got the roasted hamachi collar which was a verbal addition to the menu. Lets just say I'm glad I opted for the "one left" because it was awesome. Not quite full and interested in tasting more, we got the breakfast pancakes which might have been the best thing I ate there. Silver dollar size pancakes topped with salmon roe, diced artic char tartare, and yogurt were stacked in an artistic fashion that made the fish work in visually and flavorfully.
Our server then brought us pudding with maple and rice krispies which was the perfect fix for my dessert craving. Our server dropped the check even though we had just received our cocktails; but I get it. Overall, I had a great meal here. Might have to go back and get the foie gras and grilled cheese sandwich!