Since first stepping foot rather serendipitously into Locanda Verde some years ago, I’d been very pleasantly surprised by the quality and creativity of Andrew Carmellini and his partners’ restaurants. Even though they span different cuisines, there is something uniquely stylish about all the spaces. The Dutch is no different, albeit marginally more economically priced than Locanda Verde and certainly Lafayette.
Also, I had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of Jason Hua, the chef de cuisine at the Dutch, who had while in college departed the nondescript path towards finance for arguably more exciting one in the kitchen. The menu at the Dutch appeals because it’s broad enough in terms of flavor profiles and inspirations. Want Southern? There’s a mini-loaf of cornbread to start. Want seafood? There’s a raw bar with top-notch oysters and other stuff. Perhaps something heartier? Cheesy handmade pastas, a gussied-up lobster roll, and that ridiculous line-up of pies.
But what impressed me before I had one bite of food was this chai tea, which I found out later was spiked with vanilla rooibos. With a dash of (warm) milk, this was perfect on the rainy, chilly afternoon I stopped in. Since I like my black tea (and particularly chai) with some sugar, the rooibos was a delicious touch because it made the tea fragrant and sweet.Some cornbread and butter.My friend Leiti wanted to try this beef carpaccio with greens and a vegetable soup, with the consommé poured tableside. I wanted something a bit heavier, so I ordered this lobster roll, which came with lettuce, yuzu pickles, and bright orange roe mixed into the chunky lobster meat. The bread wasn’t quite as buttery as I like – I realize it’s a bit blasphemous, but I’ve structured my lobster roll preferences around Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook’s version at Son of a Gun, with a buttery, ultra-crisped bun. I realize it’s a two-bite creation, borderline canape, but that’s the texture I always come back to. This version was decidedly different, with my attention almost stolen by the fiercely tart yuzu pickles. In addition to that shock of citrus, I quite liked the lobster mix, which was light on mayonnaise and had the scattered roe to lend both a speckled salinity and crunch. The fries I would trade for Pearl’s shoestring rendition, but they were delicious nonetheless.Chef Hua sent us this bowl of rigatoni, with short rib, Parmesan, and butternut squash purée. Whereas the lobster roll was bright, this was heavy and rich, especially the fatty chunks of braised short rib.I thought we were finished there. In terms of gastrointestinal capacity, we were definitely edging up near our limit. And then dessert happened, courtesy of pastry chef Kierin Baldwin, pie master. A slice of maple creme and a slice of apple. Classic holiday flavors, as we were just a few weeks out from Thanksgiving. We really didn’t make much of a dent in these, given how stuffed I was, but I can vouch for how wonderfully crisp the crusts were, especially on the apple pie, with that sublime sprinkling of sugar crystals, and also how well-made the apple filling was. I like when the fruit still has some structure and tartness to it (one reason that I love black cherry pie), and Kierin’s version had both. We did, however, devour all of the ice cream. It felt wrong to let those beautiful globes go to waste. I came back for more (several times, in fact), but this was my inaugural visit to one of my new go-to spots. In the same way that I love Son of a Gun out in LA, the Dutch had a pleasant, welcoming feel, with consistent execution and a spectrum of flavors within individual dishes as well as the menu as a whole. The portions are larger, the price point is also a bit higher in comparison, but still quite reasonable (by New York standards, anyway).
131 Sullivan Street (Prince Street)