When small restaurants actually work in the big city, they are simply magic. Evidence: Prune in the East Village.
Not long ago my pal Kristin joined me at this diminutive dining room for a scrumptious brunch. And, last weekend, on a whim, my friend Joy and I decided to see if we could sneak in at the bar on a Friday night. Luck was with us. We grabbed two stools, just as a couple walked in and took the other two. (Yes, folks, this bar has only four stools. I told you it was tiny.)
No sooner did we plop our pitooties down when we saw the special for the night - Burrata - the infamous Italian cheese that made Orgasma Dinner a success and rendered the male of the species unnecessary (at least for that evening).
We weren't going anywhere. We were home for the night.
But, did we want to start off with a massive bowl of decadent dairy goodness?
We decided to scan the menu. Maybe it was best to nibble our way through and then finish with the Burrata. Mmmmm...A lot of lovely options were to be had. We finally settled on two starters: First, a plate of garden-crisp red radishes, which we dunked in sweet butter and sprinkled with coarse salt. Alongside, we ordered a platter of gorgeously seared monkfish liver. It was as rich as foie gras, but with an intense briny punch. We slathered the warm, quivering stuff on grilled bread and hummed with delight as our eyes rolled back in our heads.
What to have next...Were we ready for the Burrata? It was a tough call. We had already experienced the wonders of the incredible edible Burrata, and there were depths of Prune's menu that we still hoped to plumb. (Get it? Plumb-Prune?)
The menu prevailed. After the monkfish liver, we felt it was in our best gourmet interests to keep exploring Prune's varied offerings. And so a steaming bowl of artichoke hearts, English peas in a buttery broth was brought forth, followed by toothsome lamb sausages, which reminded Joy of the sausages prepared by her Syrian aunts when she was a girl.
As we grazed, we couldn't help but notice that the couple next to us was committing a sin. They were leaving a magnificently crisp piece of pork crackling on their plate. We eyed it with longing. It didn't go unnoticed. Soon the cracking was handed down the bar and Joy and I crunched with glee. Chatting commenced. The couple was from Atlanta. The bartender, Chuck, got into the game too. Dessert wine was poured on the house. Six degrees of separation was played and we quickly sussed out that one of them had gone to high school in Hawaii with an old college pal of mine.
Small world. And, for tonight, an enchanted one too.
The couple left. We lingered, ordering two glasses of champagne and a slice of divine chocolate almond cake to gild our lillies.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: Sometimes good things come in small boxes.