The Fat Radish
Years ago, when the UWS of NYC was no-mans land above 79th Street, a restaurant named Amsterdams opened. It was probably in the late 80's. A simple menu, well priced, good food (lots of rottisserie action)and a good vibe. The rent was probably super cheap. Before long the vacant blocks around Amsterdams began to fill up with new stores and new restaurants. I was fascinated by the transformation of the neighborhood.
The Fat Radish is located on Orchard Street, the block right above Canal Street. The neighborhood is almost beneath the bridge. The street was vacant at 8pm last night except for the shining store front of the Fat Radish. The restaurant was packed with people of all ages who looked like New Yorkers in the know. After leaving the restaurant, I wondered if this little gem will transform this area of the city which is just calling out to extend the blossoming neighborhood that is happening only a few blocks away.
We got there earlier than our friends and they wouldn't sit us until everyone got there. What ended up happening created a logjam in the front of the restaurant because we weren't the only party that wasn't complete. I hate that. There is absolutely no reason not to sit the party that got there first. After all, it isn't a big restaurant and we do have reservations. I get it when people just show up at somewhere when it is first come first serve and they don't want the first comers sitting at the table for an extended period of time for their pals. I got over it once we sat down.
I ordered a few things to try for the table. Grilled cheese and pickles. The picture came out terrible so won't bother to share. A good hearty country bread with oozing cheese that has been grilled so that you can see the markings on the bread. Really good and sliced into tiny pieces to share. We also had the beer battered squash. Think onion rings. Really interesting and quite good. The sweet squash with a crispy covering is innovative.
For the first course I had the heirloom carrots with crispy kale and hjiki seaweed. This picture was the other bust so no sharing. Sweet roasted carrots mixed together with crispy seaweed and kale is an interesting combo of flavors and textures. The salad is large. Could actually be a good one for the table to split. At least for me, I can only eat so much kale.
I opted for the Artic Char in my attempt to shed my winter coat. Crispy skinned artic char served over brained red cabbage and sliced apples. I liked the mixture of cabbage and apples vs using a grain. Made for a lighter dish which is always a bonus.
The duck was really good. Sliced pieces of honey glazed duck sitting over a wheat berry salad and pieces of roasted acorn squash on top with some pumpkin seeds tossed over the whole dish. This was the dish I would have just scarfed up. Lucky for me, Fred shared.
For dessert we had them bring the two options over. Apple and butternut squash crispy with warm spiced cream on the side. Nice presentation but not that good. The apples were hard and sour and the squash didn't balance that out.
I really liked the Fat Radish. Set in an old sausage factory that they have converted into a light airy pub. If I lived in the neighborhood, I'd probably come often. I will absolutely return and am interested to see what the block looks like in another six months and of course their spring menu.