Sometimes I get so excited to try a restaurant that I may forget that the reservation is not for that day, but a week later. So, when we arrived at Vandal on a Friday evening and saw the restaurant closed for a private party, I was a bit surprised and upset, thinking that they probably have tables in their lounge or somewhere to accommodate our reservation. But when the hostesses looked at me as if I had three heads, I realized that I was one week early...We’ll, it was not so bad as we finally ended up at The Musket Room that day and came back a week after to check out the food at Vandal. I admit that I did not realized how big the place is, with its 22,000 Square footage. Very loungey, I counted three big dining rooms, ours decorated with undressed geishas, and a quite large bar area. I should also mention the outdoor area that is a nice addition when the weather permits.
Food wise, this place owned by The Tao Group and Chef Chris Santos from Stanton Social, serves elevated street food from all over the world. The menu is definitely intriguing and is not shy of buzzwords that would excite any foodie dining there, most of the dishes being served tapas style. And if you are vegetarian or vegan, they have a nice selection that even me, a non-vegetarian, felt excited about. Here is what we had:
As a cocktail, I got the Trigger Finger, made with woodford reserve bourbon, amaro, cocchi americano, raspberry and bitters.
Eggplant meatballs (vegetarian), made with whipped basil tofu and San Marzano tomatoes. Quite nice, do not think that they have the same texture as meat-meatballs: they are softer, more delicate, but quite good, especially if, like me, you like eggplant.
Crispy bao buns, made with brisket, crunchy Asian slaw and sesame. That was fantastic: not your classic bao, but very addictive, being very tasty, crunchy and delightfully juicy. And that brisket that superb!
Wild mushroom pizza (vegetarian): this was so good; I love cheese and it had tons of fontina and mozzarella on it. I also love the sweetness the caramelized onions gave to it, pairing perfectly with the cheese.
The last dish was the New York hot pretzel tartare, that is inspired probably from the New York street vendors who sell these big pretzels that I find not good and overpriced...It was a pretzel cut into pieces topped with raw American Kobe beef with smoked aioli and pickled mustard seeds. Chewy in the bottom and crunchy on top, I admit that it did not meet my expectations. Don’t get me wrong: it was good, but did not have the wow factor that the name of the dish suggests and, when it comes to tartare, I am a purist: it needs the egg yolk!
Then was dessert. Loving whiskey, i got the Irish coffee milkshake shot that was made with espresso ice cream, Jameson whiskey and whipped cream. Small, I thought it was a quite nice interpretation on a classic Irish drink.
We also shared the churros, served with spiced chocolate. It was simply delicious. If you like churros or things that are fried, you need to order this. The chocolate sauce was definitely spicy and I ignored it: anyway, these churros could stand on their own.
We left very happy that we found this place: Vandal has an original menu with so many interesting items that I would definitely go back there!
Enjoy (I did)!
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Vandal - 199 Bowery, NY 10002