New York City has no shortages of speakeasy bars with secret entrances and intimate vibe when you get past the door. I have my favorites, including the original Raines Law Room, Angel’s Share and Dear Irving. Then there is The Garret, a hidden West Village bar on top of the Five Guys. It was not so secret as the relatively small space can be really filled with people who have heard about this place with the extra benefit of eating Five Guys burgers if they get hungry from drinking. Recently, the team behind the bar opened a second spot in the Alphabet City (called Garret East) and, surprise surprise, there is now a hidden restaurant inside it! Can this be a gimmick designed to draw more crowds who would be happy to munch on snacks without thinking much about the quality of food? Words on the street indicated that this was a serious dining spot, so I was certainly intrigued. On my recent visit with a couple of dining companions, I had a lot to like about this restaurant.
The overall food at Dinnertable leans on the Italian side, focused on small plates largely designed for sharing. I appreciated that the kitchen was putting together a nice mix of creative plates without overthinking it. Montauk pearl oyster with vermouth and Tasmanian peppercorn would be nice appetizers everywhere, and smoked short rib tartare with horseradish and marble rye was also quite delicious, with very nice texture of tartare that wasn’t overly heavy on seasoning. I wished there were more of scallop crudo and chili breadcrumbs with uni on the floor, but the dumplings with potato, pecorino and poppyseed were absolutely spot-on, with a very nice balance of flavor that really shows the kitchen is caring not only about putting together nicely plated dishes but dishes that are well-executed too.
The highlight of the meal came in the form of lasagna bolo for two. While I enjoyed lasagna that my mom used to cook for me in my childhood, I haven’t had the dish in a long, long time. The one at Dinnertable is a show-stopper, with rich, decadent flavor of baked pasta that you can enjoy with bread. I was looking over my shoulder at my dining companions to see if anyone was full so I can snatch the second one (there were five pieces for three of us). The only downer for this otherwise pleasant meal was the cappellacci pasta with braised veal, guanciale and black garlic. We ordered this after enjoying the lasagna hoping for another winner, but it turned out a little too aggressive on seasoning. The desserts were more on the simpler side, and while taco cioccolato of espresso gelato and hazelnut felt pedestrian, I did really like the refreshing touch of Amalfi “sgroppino” consisting of Sorrento lemon sorbet and prosecco granite.
The restaurant takes only a limited number of reservations for larger groups online, so the best bet is to show up early and hope for the best. We were lucky to be spared an hour late (after showing up slightly after 6 p.m. on a Saturday evening, when Garret East was already packed with people) thanks to a last-minute cancellation. There are concise wine and cocktail selections that you can complement your meal with. The intimate dining space (with a counter where you can sit in front of the open kitchen to see the chefs in action) is certainly another aspect of the restaurant that will make for a satisfying experience. I would really like to see how this kitchen evolves over time; the right mix of creativity and execution is what makes Dinnertable a gem in the Alphabet City.
- Creativity: 8.5/10
- Execution: 8.5/10
- Ingredients: 8.0/10
- Flavor: 8.5/10
- Texture: 8.0/10
Address: 206 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009
Telephone: None (email firstname.lastname@example.org)