New to eat on the west side of Hudson Street

Some less typical eateries have sprung up in the last few months on the west side of Hudson. They are not completely new, in that they are extensions of some more tried-and-true restaurants. Bar Bolonat and Decoy are both a few months old yet have some serious food talent behind them.

Einat Admony, the chef and owner of Bar Bolonat, is a local in the West Village. Her husband, Stephan, owns Taïm, which has a location on Waverly Place and another in SoHo, and the well-known Balaboosta on Mulberry Street. Originally from Israel, Einat’s cusine is inspired by her roots but takes on a broad, Middle Eastern flavor that was very pleasing. I am a big fan of Yotum Ottolengi—I have been to all of his places in London and cherish his three cookbooks. I find that Einat’s food works in a similar way: full flavors, not overly meat-centric and seemingly healthier. That feels fresh right now. The restaurant appears relatively small yet has a small downstairs dining room. The restaurant has a modern look that that is a bit less exciting than the food.

We enjoyed two appetizers, two small dishes, one large plate and a dessert. There was no misfire at any point. Smaller dishes cost around $15 and large plates are around $30. The grilled baby artichokes with a bit of yogurt and pistachio dukkah was mild nutty and had great savory qualities. The fluke ceviche with strawberry gazpacho was a bright and refreshing contrast to the more savory items. A Jerusalem bagel warmed in the oven just before being served with za’atar or a thyme and sesame dip-spice mixture and olive oil helped to further arouse our appetites. Shrimp in Yemenite curry maybe came in first place. It was a wonderful combination of Middle Eastern spices and coconut that offered a wow factor, and you could not tell where it was coming from geographically. From here, we ate meat, including a piece of short rib served tagine style with couscous and the large plate of lamb belly and shoulder with fennel and chickpeas. Both meat dishes were “stewed” and had a wonderful rich flavor that comes with time and talent. Dessert was served very attractively: different tea-flavored ice creams inside a Moroccan glass tea cup, including a very pleasant, not-too-sweet mint and petite pieces of pistachio baklava.

Decoy is somewhat appropriately hidden underneath RedFarm, located in the former spot of a Chinese laundry. The restaurant is owned by Joe Ng and Ed Schoenfeld of RedFarm. Decoy focuses on duck or Peking duck, a celebrated dish that is hit-or-miss, which I, unfortunately, did not eat. However, the a la carte menu, which is also termed a bar snack menu, was full-flavored and similar in spirit, although different from the menu upstairs. Using a special oven that was brought over from China, 24 ducks are cooked ceremoniously per night. You can reserve a duck dinner for two or more people, which includes an offering of the sides and other dishes and costs $65 per person. They take reservations, but if not fully reserved, the duck is available to walk-ins as part of the dinner or off the a la carte menu. I look forward to trying the full duck treatment.

There were two of us. We went late after the theater and got a number of small plates, the least typical being the Decoy Chips. They consist of crispy fried fish skins with a bean dipping sauce that was a bit salty, but the chips had great crunch and taste—not to mention there are healthy fish oils within. We tried the Wagyu beef sate, which included some beef ribs and a cauliflower kimchi, and two duck dishes: duck and litchi poppers and a duck sandwich with more kimchi. All were presented well but, although the duck was tender and juicy, I was not a fan of the litchi combo. For dessert, we opted for the chocolate pudding, which was good, but the key lime pie from RedFarm is especially good and is also offered downstairs.

Both restaurants focus on ethnic food that is very typical to NYC, yet both take you on a unique trip beyond what you would expect from a Middle Eastern or Chinese restaurant. Neither is inexpensive yet as we know, rent ain’t cheap, and carefully prepared food takes time.

Bar Bolonat 611 Hudson Street at 12th Street, 212 390-1545 .

Decoy 529 ½ Hudson Street near Charles 212691-9700 .

Also on the horizon and to be explored soon…

Chapter One 33 Greenwich Ave near Charles Street 212 842 9146 – an old fashioned tavern with new fashion food and drink.

Upright Brew House 547 Hudson Street at 212 810-9944 – begins early with fresh brewed coffee and continues till late with food and uniquely brewed beer.

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