Put The Smith on your short list of go-to places in the East Village/Union Square area. In fact, put this spanking-new spot right near the top. I stopped by early this evening for a quick bite, hoping for serviceable comfort food, and was blown away by the care and thought that went into each part of my meal. The flavors were bold and balanced, the kitchen's execution near-perfect, the portions heaping, and the prices very low, with pretty much everything comfortably under $20.
Basically: Welcome to the neighborhood.
Owned and operated by the crew behind Jane and The Neptune Room, the unGoogleable The Smith (how soon before it's nicknamed Morissey?) is bistro-y in its look and feel, all white tiles, dark wood, and small wooden tables. Also of note, decor-wise: vintage pinups cover one wall, and downstairs there's a photo booth, an ancient barber's chair, and an open, communal bathroom—stalls on the left, sinks on the right—designed for maximum interaction between the sexes.
The food. My feast began with what may be the best sharable starter of the year: an overflowing bowl of Hot Potato Chips with blue cheese "fondue," a simple but genius take on nachos, the warm, creamy cheese sauce turning the thin, salty chips just slightly—and beautifully—soggy and chewy. The mouthfeel is terrific, the flavors lively, the whole thing hopelessly addicting.
For my Main Course I went complicated, ordering the Lamb Schnitzel, which turns out to be an excellent choice of meat to pound, batter and fry. Because even coated in a sharp parmesan crust, spiced up with chili flakes, accompanied by lemoned-out greens and placed upon a mountain of wonderfully gummy, lumpy, dijoned mashed potatoes, I could still taste the (by the way tender) lamb. On all levels, this dish was a smashing success. If the pastas, burgers and salads are even half as good as this, The Smith is going to be packed and loud, well into the night. And my side of Brussels Sprouts? Charred to a caramelized crisp, exactly the way I like it.
The Smith is located on Third Avenue between 11th and 10th Streets. The dessert menu looked terrific, highlighted by several cake-and-ice-cream-sundae combos, but I was already ridiculously full. Definitely diving in next time, though—heck, maybe even be tomorrow night!—with help from Bo and Co.