The Lower East Side has gone and is still undergoing dramatic change.  Luckily, that area still has the flavor of the city.  All the restaurants, stores, bars are owned and run by local entrepreneurial spirits.  As my friend pointed out last night, it will never become a "mall" because the store fronts are way too tiny.  She is absolutely right.  It is sort of tough to fit a GAP into a 300 square foot space and make an impact.  Thank god.

This area has become the ultimate hipster location.  We went to Falai , on Clinton, for dinner.  It is perfect for summer.  All white with a small backyard.  Tiny.  The fare is Wild Game, Italian.  Hmm. 

The menu is small.  Appetizers, Fish, Pasta and Meat.  Only about 3-4 selections in each.  Not surprising considering the size of the restaurant.  It took a while but they finally took our order for a bottle of wine.  During this time they are constantly handing out bread.  Small loafs of poppy, black cabbage bread  (swear), sourdough etc.  They were good but not great.  I would have liked them to be a little warmer and softer.  Olive oil or butter on the table would have been a nice accompaniment.  Perhaps they forgot or they just don’t have it. 

We started with a variety of appetizers.  I had the special salad.  It sounded good.  Peeled tomatoes, sliced organic zucchini, shavings of Parmesan, toasted croutons and greens.  The presentation was terrific.  Small white bowl and all of the making of the salad layered on top of each other, including the croutons.  Really nice.  Unfortunately there is no taste.  Where was the balsamic vinaigrette promised?  Bland.  Oh well.  Someone else had the octopus which he deemed to be well presented but bland too.  Ok, on to dinner.

I had the chicken in the pot.  Nothing like a good roasted chicken.  Again, beautiful presentation.  It came in a small white pot covered.  Inside was a breast with crispy skin, deboned thigh and a small wing with small potatoes and cippolinni onions.  Again, the problem was there was no taste.  The chicken was cooked perfect, really juicy but bland.  My husband had the fish special.  Roasted monkfish with a green sauce.  Really beautiful, but again bad taste.  Such a drag.

I admit, I didn’t and I should have tasted our friends food but didn’t.  The appetizer of Ricotta and peas looked really good.  The pasta dish was beautiful too.  Small heaps of pasta and they then poured a sauce over it.

Ok.  We went for a dessert.  They gave us small cones of strawberry and chocolate gelato. I liked it.  We also had a plate of profiteroles which come very tiny stacked next to each other drenched in chocolate sauce.  I actually thought the desserts were the best thing.

Unfortunately this has been my experience down there in general.  Great ideas, beautiful presentations but there is a lack of taste and also service.  Maybe I’ve become too old for the hipster area of New York.  Who knows but I will continue to try again.

Comments (Archived):

  1. Stacy

    someone on another blog I read said that the LES was becoming sort of a bridge and tunnel crowd area. I can see that.

    I go to the Living Room and Arlene Grocery for live music, I’ll keep going there as long as they continue to be cheap and have great music.

  2. scott partee

    The bread thing you mention makes me think of, well, Italy. I have never been to a restaurant in Italy that actually serves good bread with butter or oil for the guest. To them, it seems weird and the bread is really just for desperate people who are so hungry they can’t wait. In some restaurants, it’s so bad it verges on inedible.

    This stands in stark contrast to the bread that comes out of actual bakeries. That is almost universaly awesome throughout Italy.

    I’ll be looking forward to seeing where else y’all eat this summer!

  3. paul

    “It is sort of tough to fit a GAP into a 300 square foot space and make an impact.”

    yeah just watch, it will happen.

  4. andy

    the food was forgetable but the company was great. looking back on it, i think the chef/owner and his staff forgot to have fun with the place. it’s beautiful, and the location is great, but the menu felt more like an “upper eastside standby” than a hot new les place. best thing about opening up in a (relatively) cheap neighborhood is that it allows you to experiment. falai didn’t — and i doubt we’ll be back anytime soon.