The only restaurant of its sort in this infamously “bobo” part of town, known as the East Village, this up-scale American-Mediterranean brings a value-adding effect to the the nabe in the way of elegant, inspired dishes prepared with gusto and inventiveness.
Despite the eco-friendly name though, the interior decor is a head-scratcher. Almost every blog notes this and precisely because nearly every comment had some disparaging remark about the design, I went there wanting to like it. Not to be. My integrity dictates that I save the urge to “trend-buck” for some other day.
The goth-inspired light sconces, shadow effects and ridiculous arachnid-shaped floor lamps make the inside look mildly reminiscent the rubbled remains of a set of a late eighties MTV video…Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” anyone?
On to the substance:
For starters, I ordered the hamachi salad with avocado and baby spinach leaves. The hamachi was very meaty, beautifully filleted and perfumed of freshness. The avocado and baby spinach leaves balanced out any briny flavors and juices. The portion was perfect.
My dining companion ordered the Tuscan white bean soup. I sampled some and was deliciously surprised. The mushroom impressed at the harmony of aromas and flavors. The texture was smooth and shitake mushrooms enhanced the flavors in a subtle but decisive way. Would definitely remember this dish for a future visit.
For my main course, I ordered the Atlantic skate. Roasted to a light crispy texture and to a golden-brown color, the skate was cooked just tender. The superbly fresh and flavorful razor clams punctuated the otherwise dull, New England chowdery side broth with texture and attitude. Here too, the portion-sizing was appropriate and commensurate to pricing. A recommendable choice for someone seeking a light seafood dish.
My dining companion upstaged me with his main course choice of the roasted organic chicken.
Meat quality, preparation, combination of ingredients (features wild mushrooms and mascarpone polenta) balance of flavors and textures are converge to make this a thoroughly exquisite choice. At $22, Apiary nailed it on the head with portioning and pricing here too. When you go to Apiary, and lousy decor aside, I do recommend you try it, make sure that someone in your party orders this dish.
Most dessert options are offered with dessert wine or liqueur pairings. We opted to share the decadently fabulous Varlhona flourless chocolate cake, sans the 10 year Tawney that was suggested to go with it. Neither sweet or rich to excess, it reaffirmed every reason why chocolate cake is among the palate’s most celebrated guilty pleasures.
While it may not wow you in any way that is consistent, Apiary’s menu offers more than a few sporadic rewards. Prices are reasonable for its genre. Service is efficient but notably lackluster. During our visit, our server showed little to no enthusiasm toward us and the fact that it was our first time at Apiary.