A Peasant in Nolita, NYC

Earlier this week, the bf and I met up with his friends for our monthly dinner.  As is typical of these reunions, there was a long list of requirements on the restaurant choice, not least of which involved the food.  Despite my usual reluctance to use Open Table, I briefly resorted to it, before finding a 9pm table at Peasant.

Having walked by it several times, I knew that Peasant was set in a beautiful space.  The entryway is small and the restaurant itself slightly recessed.  The floor to ceiling windows offer a great view onto a cute, neighbourhoody street while the red brick walls, stone floors and dim lighting create a warm aura of rustic Italian charm.  Peasant is much bigger than it looks from the outside and if you walk past the well-stocked bar, it opens up into a cavernous space with an open fire kitchen and many tables. The clinking of wine glasses and the euphony of happy dinner chatter help create a lively ambience without being too loud.  Perfect.

Unfortunately, Peasant’s early wins were somewhat undermined by a long wait for our table.  I hate it when New York restaurants book tables too close together or when (worse) they deliberately dilly dally so that you’ll buy drinks at the bar. We did happily buy drinks at the bar though and they turned out to be pretty delicious. (Try the La Contessa.)

Service continued to be slightly slow but we enjoyed our appetizers of razor clams, spring vegetables and a bocconcini salad.  The entrees were a little more mixed. The gnocchi was good but a bit one dimensional and slightly doughy whereas the lamb con polenta was a disappointment. The lasagne con capretto was absolutely delicious and easily the best dish of the night but, when your best entree is the lasagne, something isn’t right.

The portions are large, but we’d saved some room for dessert and ordered the hazelnut gelato and a cheesecake.  The gelato was good but the cheesecake not really edible.  Hmmm.

Not really sure what to recommend here. This is another place I really wanted to like but the food was a little underwhelming (especially given the expectations generated by the outstanding ambience and “open fire” cooking) and the service was iffy.   I would go back and maybe try some different dishes, drink some wine and sit near the window. But if you’re looking for a guaranteed fantastic meal, this is not your place.

Damage: $270 for four with drinks.

Other: Interestingly, Peasant has been around for nearly 10 years.  That’s like a lifetime in New York restaurant time!  A lot of the rave reviews it’s received pertain to another era so maybe it’s moved south over time.

Peasant on Urbanspoon

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