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The Early Word on East Village Newcomer Goat Town

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Krieger 12/1/10

The interestingly named Goat Town opened late last month in the old Butcher Bay/Seymour Burton space in the East Village. Owner Nick Morganstern, formerly of The General Greene, will have you know that Goat Town is "the Anglo-Saxon translation of the Dutch word, 'Gotham'" so if you came here thinking you'd find goat, you'd be out of luck. What customers have found so far is an elevated American bistro menu that's seasonal and ingredient-driven "with a focus on authentic and flavorful American classics." It's been nearly a month since they came onto the scene so let's take a look at what the people think. To the early word:

The Welcome News: KikaEats went two days in a row so it's safe to say she likes the place. "Bright and sunny by day, warmly candlelit by night, it's the kind of neighborhood restaurant that is perfect for any meal. It's all in the detail... Brunch highlights include a N'Orleans scramble with tasso ham and oysters ($13), and a semolina raisin French toast with New York maple syrup ($12)... A steal is the happy hour beer and burger special ($14). A generous cheese burger comes brimming with crispy thick cut fries, pickled onion and a side of delicious homemade horseradish-garlic mayo... Even the desserts are made on site. Just come by." [KikaEats]

The "Profound Execution" News: There be oysters here so cue Oyster Blog with their take on the place. "If there is one thing that this restaurant did particularly well that night, is put forth a mindfully chosen raw bar with profound execution." They do note that there may be a thematic confusion here. "The wooden bar, chandeliers made of croquet mallet handles, and wooden shelves, give way to the feeling of being in a renovated barn. At another point, looking out towards the entrance, beyond the arch tiled ceiling, there is a sense of an old ferry boat turned restaurant. Yet the tiled oversized booths, copper raw bar on top of a wooden bar, and an open kitchen creates a cozy, but lively, sense of dining in a classic American saloon." But enough about decor, let's get to the oysters. "All oysters were great in size, well selected and came accommodated by the chef’s salsa verde flavored like mignonette. The Salt Ponds were briny, smooth and without much of a finish. They were simple and enjoyable...Minus for a few lose pieces of shell, the oysters were well shucked." [The Oyster Blog]

The Shitshow News: Mac n Chi's is not impressed: "A long wait is typical, especially for a new place.. they get a pass. But cramming in two separate parties totaling 6 people along an isle that reasonably fits 4, is downright greedy. Thank goodness all 6 were thin, or we’d have to take turns sitting down. On top of which, neither the kitchen nor bar could keep up with the orders, so what was the point of cramming more people in? Flocked like sheep, packed like sardines.. that’s what they think we deserved." Ooh, burn! Maybe things get better when they get their food? "Being so close to the next party highlighted the inconsistency. They sat first but our order was taken before theirs. They got bread, we didn’t. Their appetizers (identical) came before ours did tho we ordered before them. Our entrees came while they waited. Not a well oiled machine... But one of our side orders never came, we had to cancel it." Final thoughts? "I liked the food, I really did. But it was overshadowed by the s#%@show." [Mac n Chi's]

The Great News: Chowhounder brighton312 has a good experience here. "My SO and I went for brunch this morning and were impressed... The ambience is wonderful, with good 50s music and nice decor. We sat in one of the tiled booths and received prompt, smooth, and friendly service. I had the truffle scramble ($14) served over buttered brioche toast. The scramble was delicious and flavorful, though the tiniest bit undercooked in some areas. The brioche was wonderful, making for great toast. The portion looked small at first, but it was a very satisfying meal...It is a little pricey, but we'll be back for a splurge." [CH]

The AMAZING News: Yelper Kate F. lives across the street and sounds like she plans on many return visits. "food wise, everything we had was very homemade tasting...from their german inspired onion soup, artic char, and the most delicious item of all roast chicken -- it felt like we went over to a friend's house for dinner who could COOK. oysters were fantastic, as they should be! whoever is working as the pastry chef here is doing a wonderful job...the cookie plate was AMAZING. i would love to buy a dozen chocolate chip!! im excited to see where this place goes, and im sure we'll be back...since we live across the street!" [Yelp]

The Okay News: The Yelper Sharlene C. doesn't lay out the superlatives but that doesn't mean she didn't have a good time. "we were cold and hungry, but goat town was our oasis. there was a booth open, but the place was full with people waiting on at the bar. miraculously, we were given the last booth. hooray for parties for 4! we got a bottle of the red and started with the grill squid.the entrees took a bit of time to get out but luckily we had lots of convo and catching up to keep us occupied." There was a slight hiccup with the burger, unfortunately. "i had ordered the burger medium rear, but came out more medium done. i still inhaled it thanks to the pickled onions which helped with the crumbly burger." They do sound like they have an itchy trigger finger when it comes to moving along to the next set of patrons. "they were quick to shoo us out, which i wasn't too miffed about but my pal was." Overall, though, sounds like it was more than adequate. "all in all, the eats are solid and service is fair. warning: they play music way loud so get ready to yell your convos." [Yelp]

The Bad News: A complaint from an Eater commenter: "Honestly, this was one of the worst experiences I have ever had in New York. I live in the neighborhood and stopped by Goat Town at 8:30pm this past Friday night to put our name down and was told to come back in an hour for a table. We came back about an hour and a half later and the hostess assured us we had only a 5 minute wait left... little did we know she would then pretend we didn't exist for another hour! I finally had to approach the owner with my frustration and he could not care less... apparently they are only letting diners sit who have an "in" as personal friends of his. When we finally left at 10:45pm furious both the owner and hostess could not even muster an apology... just a simple "ok" in an infuriating cheery tone. In a neighborhood with ample and excellent choice, you would expect a restaurant as affectedly trendy, trying so hard to be cool, with mediocre been done before food would be focused on customer service, or at the very least human decency." [Eater Comments]

The Twitterific News: @hpluss already has this place among her recommended list. "My top recs for E.Vill eats: Goat Town, Momofuku Noodle Bar, Edi & the Wolf, Hearth, The Redhead, Mercadito, Prune, Dirty Candy." @JoshMBernstein loves the burger. "Mmm. Happy hour burger w/fries+beer at Goat Town in the #EastVillage. A pleasing $14. A tad too much blue cheese, but such is stinky life." @jesshodin likes but cautions against visiting them so soon after they opened. "so packed...really nice staff and great food but took forever. Wait to go til they work out the kinks" @rubinla wonders about the facial hair on display here. "Am loving Goat Town on 5th St in East Vill, my new local joint for local fare. But looks like only men w ironic facial hair are allowed?" @bjohnbaker simply tweets, "overhyped." @boweryhotelnyc disagrees. "Finally dined at Goat Town last night, the hype is well deserved. Will be back!" @olaforsstrom tweets about his brunch. "The tri tip steak can be recommended. Plenty of protein." [Twitter]
—Gary Wong

Goat Town

511 East 5th Street, New York, NY 10009 (212) 687-3641

Goat Town

511 East 5th St., New York, NY