What makes a seafood restaurant successful? Obviously, the freshness of seafood is the key success factor, and the next is how the kitchen puts together fresh ingredients in a way that ensures the texture stays consistently good with no overkill on the flavor. I was hoping that Edwin & Neal’s Fish Bar, which recently opened in East Village from the team behind oyster bar Upstate, would be able to achieve this mission. While there were some dishes that worked, overall I was somewhat overwhelmed by the flavor, which was a bit too strong and therefore undermining the texture of otherwise fresh seafood.
When it comes to seafood, more often than not, simplicity with emphasis on freshness of ingredients usually pays off. For Edwin & Neal’s, there seemed to be too much going on with some of the dishes, starting with roasted oysters with bacon and brussels sprouts. Sweet and sour calamari with peanuts and cilantro, too, was too strong in the flavor even though the calamari itself was tender. The whole idea on putting Asian touch may have been creative, but it seemed the execution was definitely off. Octopus cassoulet with bacon, white beans and breadcrumb also had too much going on, and the funky flavor of broth underneath made sure that I would not want to try this dish again.
Now on to the good parts. Edwin & Neal’s has the fish bar section where you can combine one of the catches with a side dish. The better dishes came from this section where simplicity did play better, such as fresh head-on shrimp with broccoli sautéed in garlic and olive oil, or the nicely cooked cod that worked beautifully with fresh corn polenta and roasted brussels sprouts. The best dish of the night belonged to shrimp “rigggies,” a dish of rigatoni with shrimp sausage, bacon and parmesan that I just couldn’t stop digging. For a seafood restaurant, it was quite a delicious pasta dish with rich flavor that wasn’t too overpowering.
Getting a reservation seems relatively easy, although the dining space was crowded with people on my visit on a Thursday night. Edwin & Neal’s has a typical vibe of East Village, a straightforward neighborhood-type restaurant without much fuss. There is a full bar, and complementing your meal with a glass of white seems like a good idea. While the restaurant had some good dishes, I’m not quite ready to call it a destination worth visiting. I would like to see how the kitchen evolves over time, sticking with basics instead of having too much going on.
- Creativity: 7.5/10
- Execution: 7.5/10
- Ingredients: 8.0/10
- Flavor: 7.0/10
- Texture: 8.0/10
Address: East 6th Street, New York, NY 10003
Telephone: (212) 477-0617