Neighborhood dining has often been the exclusive province of ethnic eats or over-priced, gourmeted-up comfort food concoctions like grilled brie sandwiches or merlot braised pot roast. Fiddlehead cafe re-imagines that idea so you no longer need to leave the hood for haute reasonably priced food.
Partners David Byers and Mark Amodeo (formerly of Bin 36) took over the old Square Kitchen space in Lincoln Square and hired Robert Levitt (formerly of North Pond) and most recently the sous chef at Del Toro to helm the kitchen. The vibe and decor remain essentially unchangedólaid back, low light, with maple wood furniture and a few touches of art, and you can still come as you are. Amodeo and Byers have beefed up the wine list and added a user-friendly visual key, with icons like a lemon to denote citrus or a cactus to represent "dry" wines.
Levitt is sticking to his roots, making weekly trips to the Green City Market and focusing on using sustainable organic ingredients from local farmers. Offerings like slow-roasted Berkshire pork shank, bacon-braised lentils, and pear mostarda with pork jus, wild mushroom and polenta terrine with roasted parsnips and musroom ragu, and seared scallops with chanterelle mushrooms and roasted pumpkin sage brown butter would be at home at tonier chef-driven restaurants around town. Levitt says, "We're using a lot of the same ingredients as great restaurants such as Blackbird, but we're charging a lot less per entree." Indeed, at $4-11 for appetizers and $9-21 for entrees, it's a great deal.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Michael Nagrant