Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Northern Spy: More than just great local, seasonal food

Northern Spy Food Co. opened it's doors a few months back in the East Village and is quickly becoming one of NYC's most prominent hot spots for seriously excellent, authentic local and seasonal fare. The brainchild behind Chris Ronis, and SF transplants Christophe Hille (formerly of A16), and executive chef Nathan Foot (formerly of Myth), Northern Spy merges a cozy restaurant vibe with a small neighborhood-friendly marketplace, featuring local artisanal products from yogurt, to Brooklyn Brine pickled vegetables to maple syrup and tasty treats by Liddabit and Nunu chocolates. So not only are these guys committed to shopping it up at the farmers market, changing the menu on a weekly basis, showcasing great quality seasonal and local ingredients and farmers, but they're also making a point to bring good, fresh food staples and sundries out of their restaurant and into your own kitchen. Read: they're helping us get a little closer to our food source and consider where and who it's coming from. And that's what makes Northern Spy one of those game-changing neighborhood spots where you can sit, schmooze, nibble and sip for hours on end (I'm speaking from personal experience here...multiple times over).
As for the food itself, Foot is serving up some of the best flavors and refined yet simple and well-balanced food I've ever had. Killer salads and seasonal vegetable dishes, ridiculously creamy Wild Hive polenta, nutty grains like red quinoa and wheatberries, a class Bobo roasted chicken and crazy good pork dishes. Luckily, I live in the neighborhood and have experienced most of the menu - and I can confidently say you can't really go wrong. Here's a handful of my favorite dishes:

butternut squash soup
kale salad with Clothbound cheddar, kabocha squash, almonds and lemon dressing
freekah risotto with squash
wild hive polenta with braised greens, roasted mushrooms and creme fraiche
bread & winter squash salad with baked eggs (for all you brunch lovers, it's freaking awesome)

...and though it's not pictured below, please, please, please indulge a little and have the pear and frangipane tart (I promise, it's well worth a few extra calories!) One final note, get the pickled eggs, might sound odd, but they're a must-have starter dish or snack. Happy eating in the East Village...

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