This month the theme is businesses sharing a space. It is not surprising given that rents, while lower in some cases than pre-pandemic, are still very high in this area. There were a number of openings, some of them new locations or relatives of existing restaurants, a few closings, and a hint that the old Riviera space will once again house a restaurant.
The Noortwyck—289 Bleecker Street at 7th Avenue South
Andrew Quinn, the chef at The Noortwyck hails from London where from 2010-2014 he worked at Hibiscus, a two-star Michelin restaurant which was known for molecular gastronomy (and where I enjoyed a lovely meal on a long-ago London visit). In 2014 he came to New York to work at Eleven Madison Park (EMP) for a year, with plans to return to Hibiscus afterwards and become the head chef there. Instead, he stayed at EMP for five years. In 2019, he decided that he wanted a new challenge, and considered the possibility of opening his own restaurant. In the meantime, he began to cook privately, something that worked out well during the pandemic. With the help of some of the people he cooked for he was able to find investors. Cedric Nicaise, who had been the wine director at EMP for 10 years, was advising him on the concept and wine list, but he later joined as a partner last summer and afterwards things began to move more quickly. Two weeks after they saw The Loyal space they decided to take it. Not only had they wanted to open a restaurant in the West Village (Quinn said it reminded him of home), but the previous owner, John Frasier, had done all the build out so there was not much more that was needed. Quinn and Nicaise want The Noortwyck to be a neighborhood restaurant with regulars. The cuisine will be New American with a focus on locally sourced, hyper-seasonal produce, with as many products from New York as possible. The basement has a large walk-in space which will allow dry aging in house. There will be an ambitious bread program, and pasta will also be made on the premises as the kitchen is well set up for that. The beverage program will focus on wine, with some bottles that are great values, and some others that are splurge-worthy for special occasions. Nicaise is from Brussels, so there will be Belgian beers, but also interesting New York beers. In addition to the dining room, the restaurant will have 4 outdoor tables, and 12-14 seats at the bar which will be reserved for walk-ins. We asked about the name of the restaurant, and learned that The Noortwyck means North District, and referred to the area that is now Greenwich Village which was north of New Amsterdam, and originally filled with farm plots. The Noortwyck will open on June 7th, with a soft opening the week before.
Shmoné—61 W 8th Street between 6th Avenue and MacDougal Street
Eyal Shani, the Israeli chef who owns Miznon in Chelsea Market, Hasalon and Miznon North on the Upper West Side has opened an exuberant restaurant on West 8th Street with dishes that are as delicious as those at Miznon, but more elaborate, with names to match. (Shmoné means eight in Hebrew, and presumably refers to the restaurant’s location on 8th Street.) The seasonal menu, which changes daily, has categories like “Earth Creatures,” “Wheat Creatures,” and “Animal Creatures,” and the dishes have equally creative names. We tried the “Plate of 170 Peas (don’t try to count them) & their shoots,” “Pyrex tray served stormy stracciatella lasagna,” and “Grass-fed lamb ragu on top of focaccia with tahini,” among other things. The focaccia in the latter dish was more like a frena, a type of Moroccan bread and it was delicious. Shmoné is the only restaurant I’ve seen that has an absinthe menu which includes other anise-flavored drinks like Raki (Turkish) and Arak (Israeli). Eyal Shani has a restaurant in Tel Aviv called North Abraxas, and the experience here is similar except that unlike at North Abraxas, the waiters do not throw the food down directly onto the paper-covered table. The restaurant occupies the space that was Neta, the sushi and omakase restaurant that started out with two sushi chefs from Masa (who later left to start their own place, Shuko), and then briefly the izakaya-style spot Bumu, which opened in December 2019 and closed four months later.
Mermaid Mexicana has opened where The Mermaid Inn used to be at 79 MacDougal Street (between Bleecker and West Houston Streets). The Mermaid Inn closed that location and moved a few stores down to the old JG Melon corner spot, but recently they took over their old space for this new concept. The menu features typical Mexican offerings, with more meat dishes than the original. There is a large drink menu with a Tequila, Mezcal and Sotol (a newly popular Tequila relative) section as well as different Cócteles, Cerveza and Vino. Summer Wind Café 569 Hudson Street (at 11th Street) opened in the old Philip Marie space. They are a café “offering a variety of Coffee, Juice, Soft Drinks, Pastries, Sandwiches and Breakfast / Lunch offerings” which include pastas, salads, meatballs and a few main courses. Summer Wind is sharing the venue with One37PM, a digital media brand that will be doing podcasts out of the space. Bella Dea (27 Morton Street at Bedford Street) is timesharing the space with Breakfast by Salt’s Cure. Early in the day, you can grab breakfast foods, and in the evening, the location turns into a sustainable seafood and low intervention wine bar. The owners opened Crudo e Nudo in Santa Monica, CA after starting the concept as a pop-up in 2020. A fourth location of Blank Street Coffee has opened in the West Village. This one is located at 5 Carmine Street (at 6th Avenue), next to French Bakery Marie Blachère, in the now-shuttered Popbar space.
Davidovich (195 Bleecker Street between 6th Avenue and MacDougal Street) – a bagel store and bakery opened and closed in the blink of any eye. The company sells their bagels wholesale, and they still have a couple of retail outlets around the city. Starbucks (378 6th Avenue near Waverly Place) has been alternately open and closed for the last few months, but now they seem permanently shuttered, and their phone goes immediately to voicemail. HPF (98 Christopher Street), a jewelry and home goods store that opened in 2015, closed mid-May. They attribute their closing to the pandemic, but hope to eventually find a new store in New York. Crop Circle (126 Macdougal Street between Minetta Lane and West 3rd Street), a Chinese restaurant that was best known for its guokui, a Northern Chinese street food which is a very large stuffed dough, with filling options like shrimp, beef and more, has closed after less than two years at that location. A sign on the door said: “We’ll say goodbye to Macdougal Street. Thank you for everything. Hope to see you in the future.”
While the Shake Shack Innovation Kitchen has been open since 2018 at 225 Varick Street, now a new location is opening under the High Line steps at Gansevoort Street. Little Charli (271 Bleecker Street at Morton Street), a pizzeria serving “Roman style pies with a New York Twist” is opening in the old Kesté space. They have retained the Kesté wood-burning pizza oven, and most of the Kesté décor. The offerings will include Margherita, Snow White and Special Pie pizza, as well as Calzones. Something is going on in the old Riviera space (225 West 4th Street at 7th Avenue South). There is currently an application to the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to alter the façade, replace an enclosed sidewalk café, and replace window and signage. The new restaurant will be called Ruby’s, and they use “the freshest local produce balanced with Australian culinary influences.” The owners operate a number of other Ruby’s around the city as well as The Happiest Hour, the lively bar on West 10th Street. There was a hearing scheduled in front of the LPC, first in April and then in May, but it has been postponed, so stay tuned. The Riviera Café was open for 48 years, but closed in 2017, and the space has been vacant since and it is now looking rather sad with its graffitied façade.
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