Nolita: One thing careful eaters need to be on the lookout for these days is the extent to which long uncompromising restaurateurs are folding on their signature quirks as they get nervous about the economy and how these concessions can turn out to be silver linings in these trying times. First, '21' Club, a bastion of old New York, became the last restaurant to loosen its tie requirement. Then Chang added the dreaded coffee. And now, Peasant, the Nolita gem, has given into the pressure:
The old custom, one of many things Peasant's grouchy genius chef/owner Frank DeCarlo did because he could, was to pretentiously present diners with a menu entirely in Italian, which, then, a waiter had to recite back by memory. (Because what the hell is "spiedini alla pollastra"?) Quite a show, and very good for showing off on dates, if you didn't need the waiter's help. But, more generally, a bit too rarefied.
Those uninitiated to the intricacies of Peasant can see the number of references to the menu here. According to workers, the change—made both to the upstairs restaurant and the lower level wine bar— was quietly made between Halloween and Thanksgiving. While concessions like these can be seen as dire signs, they're really win-wins for us diners. Hot coffee at the Momos, translations at Peasant, who know what's next?
If you know of any other restaurants making concessions to the times, please let us know.
· Vital MomoWire: Momofuku Milk Bar Could Get a Momofuku Bar Bar [~E~]
· Eater Requiem: On The 21 Club's Shocking Dress-Down [~E~]