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The Early Word on Paul Gerard's Exchange Alley

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Exchange Alley is the new bar and restaurant by chef Paul Gerard, who was most recently at Soho House, and Bill Gilroy, a founder of the West Village hotness Employees Only. Gerard's a New Yorker who spent several years in New Orleans, cooking in the kitchens of Donald Link, Susan Spicer, and John Harris. (Harris, owner of New Orleans' Lilette, is a partner in Exchange Alley.) But this isn't a hokey NOLA joint: Gerard insists it's an old-school New York City spot, albeit with a slight New Orleans twist that comes out through a few dishes, like the jambalaya balls.

Most of the early word has been positive, generally, with a few minor points of concern here and there. Here's what people are saying so far:

The Good News: Here's what one effusive Yelper has to say: "This place is unique. The food is really very tasty. Very reasonably priced. Got there early and glad we did because we got a table right away. Later on the place was PACKED!! Good for them! I love the details of the place." [Yelp]

The Less Good News: Another Yelper chimes in with a couple of concerns in an otherwise glowing review: "Skip the desert, weak selection, walk elsewhere for something worth the calories. Servers are still rookies, that's okay. The wait was worth it. Owner/manager couldn't have been any more gracious. (note to owner: staff eating in dining room? felt a little strange for them to sit a table away, eat and occasionally get up to bring out plate.)" [Yelp]

The Standout News: Over at the blog Put a Egg On It, some exceptional dishes: "We tried most of the appetizers on the list. The standouts included fried pickled okra (crispy, not greasy, a few slices of red jalapeño worked super well with them) and a very smooth smoked whitefish with housemade caraway chips. And we definitely lost our minds over the jambalaya balls with dirty gravy. They were like perfectly fried risotto balls but with jambalaya! Really good jambalaya. And we all know how hard it is to find such a thing in New York." [PAEOI]

The Opening Night News: An Eater commenter went opening night and wants to make sure people know it's not all New Orleans stuff: "[T]hough the place is named after Exchange Alley in NOLA the menu wasn't just Jambalaya. Po' Boys and Gumbo. There was some of that but there were all kinds of accents involved. I was there opening night and really enjoyed it." [Eater Comments]

The Very Cool News: People on Twitter seem to be fans. Amid the glut of check-ins and retweets, users are calling it a "Very cool place" and saying they're "impressed." [Twitter]

The Bacony Goodness News: Among the three tips on Foursquare so far, the most substantive returns to those jambalaya balls: "Get the jambalaya balls for crying out loud! The clams casino have a lot of bacony goodness, too... be sure to ask for extra bread to sop up the broth." [Foursquare]

The Loud News: Back to the Yelp, where one person complains about the noise: "the decibel level by 7:45 pm from music playing and people talking is horrible. At my table, we couldn't hear each other talk. One of the waiters allowed as how the music hurt his ears! They did turn it down. But no effort has been made to baffle sound. I'm convinced it's a way 1) to make it seem like a happening place and 2) to get patrons to eat quickly and turn over tables fast. A pity..." [Yelp]

The Charming News: A Grub Street commenter approves: "I tried Exchange Alley last week and it is definitely worth a visit. The food was very good and the restaurant itself is extremely charming." [GS Comments]
· All Coverage of Exchange Alley [~ENY~]

Exchange Alley

424 E Ninth St., New York, NY