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Smorgasburg’s Seasonal Restaurant 180 Tenth Is Good for Booze and Snacks

In a first look, Sietsema says plan on dinner elsewhere

As restaurateurs struggle to find new formulas for success in the face of a brutal business environment, the seasonal restaurant is one option. These eateries, which often take advantage of nontraditional real estate, exist only in warmer months. Many have no indoor seating and little shelter from the rain, and kitchens that could best be described as rudimentary.

The latest is 180 Tenth — from Smorgasburg founders Eric Demby and Jonathan Butler — located spectacularly in front of The High Line Hotel in Chelsea. The restaurant occupies an elongated courtyard bisected by the entrance to the hotel, with a bar on one side and seating for perhaps 60 at two rows of tree-shaded tables on the other. A friend and I sat on a black couch under a linden tree just inside the wall. The setting is relaxing and peaceful, except for the occasional motorcycle throttling outside.

Frozen Negroni

Like Demby and Butler’s Berg’n in Prospect Heights, the alcohol component overshadows the food here. When we visited in the early evening, the other customers were doing more drinking than eating and the kitchen was slow. The alcohol menu is equally divided among cocktails, beers, and wines, with frozen cocktails called “frozies” a specialty.

The menu is short, consisting of 12 snacks and small plates, and three entrees. In the former category, most selections don’t have to be cooked or even reheated. Nevertheless, many were quite good. Fluke crudo ($15) was the best dish, littered with pickled fennel stems, seeds, and fronds. Served with aioli, the French fries were great too, and so were the well-browned chard arancini: four to an order for $7. Indeed, deep frying is a forte.

But the gem lettuce salad was a bummer, mainly leaves flattened with fried onions that could have been mistaken for Funyuns. The slender list of entrees were a disappointment, including a cheeseburger ($18) topped with onion jam on a seeded bun that came out dry and overcooked, and a plate described as crispy ramp polenta. Topped with a runny fried egg, it tasted more like scrapple. The roasted carrot plate — utilizing bright red specimens of the root vegetable scattered with herbs and cheese — redeemed the entrees by being interesting as well as beautiful.

Ultimately, 180 Tenth is a showy place for drinks whenever the weather is not too hot and not too rainy. And for the moment it’s a good alternative to Frying Pan, when the line there stretches down the dock and around Hudson River Park.

The High Line Hotel

180 10th Ave, New York, NY 10011 (212) 929-3888 Visit Website
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