The Fat Radish, or as Rick’s cousin likes to call it “the Fiery Beet,” is a newish, trendy restaurant on the Lower East Side/edge of Chinatown. It had been on our list of places to check out for a while, considering its close proximity to Rickle’s apartment, and finally last week we made it there. Aside from its fantastic name, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the restaurant. It’s a well-known hipster hangout, with a very attractive staff and its über trendy reputation but would the food be good? Because ultimately that’s all I care about. Their website describes the restaurant thusly:
“The cuisine at The Fat Radish does not fall into one particular category but rather returns to a way of eating before food was constantly classified”
Which is amusing because immediately after that sentence they go on to classify the restaurant essentially as seasonal with healthy, simple ingredients. Way to be a contradiction Fat Radish.
Upon entering, I was immediately impressed by the decor. It’s a really beautiful space. White washed walls, rustic tables, and industrial accents – it’s light and airy, even though the room is small. But enough about the decor! I didn’t come here to review the gorgeous scenery or the beautiful people. No, I came here to talk about the food! And boy was I impressed. I kind of wanted to hate this place but instead I kind of fell in love. Sigh.
They start you off with a plate of radishes that have been marinated in oil and olive tapenade. I’m not really a big radish person but anyone who does enjoy them would probably appreciate the way they’re served here. We ordered the tomatoes, grilled avocado squash, and chili lime dressing to share. The tomatoes tasted like the ones I get from my local grocery store, which is not a compliment. Honestly, they should have just doubled the amount of avocado squash and forgotten about the tomatoes. The squash was so good I could have eaten it for my main meal and been totally okay with it. It was cooked perfectly, not at all mushy or overcooked, and it tasted like I had just picked it from my own garden. Admittedly, I had never even heard of avocado squash, much less eaten it before so I had nothing to compare it to but that doesn’t change the fact that it was delicious. We had already started eating when I remembered I had to take a picture of it. Oops.
Rick got the swordfish with roasted corn, tomatoes, and squash. The swordfish was yummy but the best part of the dish was the veggies that came with it. I kept sneaking bites from his plate. Really flavorful and fresh.
I ordered the lamb loin with mushrooms and spinach. I usually opt for fish rather than meat when I got out but the lamb attracted my attention…ok, it probably had something to do with the mushrooms…I love mushrooms. Regardless of my reasons, the lamb did not disappoint. On top of the bed of mushrooms and spinach lay 4 or 5 pieces of lightly seared lamb medallion. At first I thought, “this seems like a smallish portion” but as I began eating I realized there was more lamb hiding in the spinach! So sneaky. Pieces of shredded lamb dotted the leafy greens. Everything was well seasoned and I finished every last bite on my plate. It was the perfect amount of food. The service was great. Despite it being a busy night I never felt neglected, nor smothered, which can be just as irritating. Our server was friendly and helpful.
Rather than get dessert there, Rick and I decided to go for some gelato at Stellina, the sister shop of restaurant Sorella. Rick got the mint chocolate chip. I was impressed with the mint flavor. Just like Il Laboratorio del Gelato, it was real mint flavor. Like mint straight from your garden. It didn’t have quite the texture or depth of flavor that il laboratorio’s did but it was good. I opted for the giandujotto – basically chocolate hazelnut. In Italy I was a hazelnut fiend. It’s still my favorite flavor and the one I judge all gelato shops on. This one came with chunks of real hazelnuts covered in dark chocolate. I thought the flavor was pretty good but I’m a tough critic when it comes to hazelnut. I still enjoyed it though.