A funny thing happened back in August when I secured a reservation at Davelle. A few days before I was to visit this Japanese kissaten (a tea and coffee shop that also serves curried rice, pastas and other traditional and modern dishes) with my wife Jun, I got a text message saying that the restaurant will be closed going forward. Getting a reservation through the Resy app was shockingly difficult at the time, and New York City doesn’t have quite have a restaurant with Davelle’s concept so I was super bummed. Fast forward a couple of months later, and when I looked up Resy again I was surprised to find that Davelle was back on the map (and there were ample seats available for reservation). I had this “now or never” mindset and hit press on the next available Saturday dinner. Since its opening earlier this year, Davelle had positive buzz with its cute space and food with understated warmth and elegance. I was in particular looking forward to trying a few dishes that I knew Jun and I would both enjoy greatly. Unfortunately, on our visit, some of the dishes on my radar were missing and others were surprisingly underwhelming.
The concise menu at Davelle consists mostly of dishes with modest portions that are ideal for sharing (even the larger entrees were small in portions than I had anticipated although these all have rice or spaghetti noodles so you won’t go hungry after digesting all the carbs). Among the appetizers, we were intrigued by the mentain cheese potato croquettes and found these bites to be extremely satisfying; it certainly helped that they came out hot at the optimal level so everything inside was melting in our mouth. Jun is an avid fan of fried chicken and therefore I was looking forward to trying the Japanese one (karaage) at Davelle, but it was not on the menu! As an alternative, we ordered chicken miso katsu, which was nicely battered but the chicken’s flesh wasn’t as juicy as we had expected.
For the entrees, we ordered Davelle’s “original” pork curry (which according to the menu is also gluten-free) and spicy cod caviar spaghetti. Coincidentally, two of my favorite dishes that Jun cooks at home are Japanese curry and spicy cod roe pasta. As a seasoned cook, Jun was very appreciative of the depth of the pork curry’s flavor (although we both wished there were more pork and other vegetable contents) that was quite addictive. On the other hand, the spaghetti was a disappointment because it lacked the spicy kick we were both expecting; instead, the dish came out a little bit bland. Before we stepped into the restaurant, I was actually more interested in ordering the “too much” sea urchin spaghetti that seemingly became a signature dish at the restaurant, but again to my dismay it was no longer available in the menu. Our mixed experience with savory dishes was somewhat alleviated by the two small desserts we ordered. The coffee jelly and milk pudding (with a strawberry submerged in it) were both delightful desserts without being too overly sweet.
While getting a reservation at Davelle has become considerably easier than the past few months, it is a tiny spot that quickly became fully packed during our meal so I highly suggest booking in advance if you are interested in checking out the restaurant. We both liked the cozy feel of a coffee shop that was not pretentious at all but had the Japanese sensibility and charm all over it. There are some sake, beer and sake-based cocktail options you can choose from to complement your meal. During daytime, Davelle becomes a coffee shop with diverse caffeine offerings. Our visit to Davelle is one of those instances where the dining experience didn’t quite live up to our expectations due to the unavailability of a few dishes that we were really looking forward to trying. Before I decide to revisit Davelle, I’ll probably need to know what’s in their menu (the staff said the menu changes on a seasonal basis).
KenScale: 7.75/10 (Jun’s Score: 7.5/10)
- Creativity: 8.0/10
- Execution: 7.5/10
- Ingredients: 8.0/10
- Flavor: 7.5/10
- Texture: 7.5/10
- Value: 7.5/10
Address: 102 Suffolk Street, New York, NY 10002
Telephone: (646) 771-7855