Downtown party animals want to know: Where’s a nearby place to go for a nice meal after catching a music act on East Sixth or a performance at the Paramount? The answer, even after eleven years, is still Parkside, the lead spot in chef-restaurateur Shawn Cirkiel’s local empire. The menu at the casual (but not too casual) place, is approachable yet stylish, interesting without being far-out. Under the sure hand of chef Austin Finley, back in the kitchen after a stint at (now-closed) Bullfight, steak tartare gets a touch of garam masala, cashews, and cucumber, while fried green tomatoes are loaded with avocado chunks and a pert tomato gastrique. To go with the super-light crab fritters, Finley offers ravigote sauce in lieu of the predictable rémoulade. Happily, there are always seasonal treats. On our summertime visit, we had a lovely compressed watermelon salad topped with savory shavings of Spanish ham. Two to four people should plan on sharing the moist roasted chicken sided by a subtle ginger cream sauce and wedges of panisse (the pert garbanzo-flour fries of southern France). Beefeaters in the group will appreciate the 44 Farms New York strip, in a Vietnamese-derived pho jus with the lightest of tempura leeks alongside.
Cuisine: New American