Grafitti takes your typical intimate NYC restaurant and shrinks it even further. Table of 4 elsewhere? Here it seats two couples and my party of three. Think your kitchen is small? Try orchestrating a whole dining experiences in a galley kitchen so narrow that the bathroom behind it has no choice but to place the sink behind the toilet. But it is a little bit of heaven.
Once the chef, who also served as host, carefully arranged us at the table and took our orders, he and his female counterpart were friendly, efficient and provided detailed descriptions (i.e. sweet, crunch, spice, etc.) of what each dishes’ different elements added to the overall flavor when presenting the food. The cuisine is innovative, Indian-inspired and served family-style for easy sharing.
We started with the Green Mango Paneer, a savory, spicy serving of cheese cubes accompanied by soft flat bread rectangles that tasted of anise. Vika ordered the Chili Pork Dumplings with Grapefruit Confit. The dumplings were delicate and juicy topped with tiny crisps of chickpea flour; I couldn’t taste the grapefruit outright but the dumplings were slightly sweet.
Next was the Zucchini Hummus Pizza, creamy and light on a puff pastry base with a kick from an unexpected topping of wasabi peas. Thanks to my obsession with “sea marshmallows” we had the Pickled Ginger Scallops with Candied Red Chili after that. They were thinly sliced and topped with spicy, sweet ginger and crunchy lentils for a contrast. For me, the ginger overwhelmed the scallops’ flavor at times but they were cooked perfectly.
Our entrees were the Cumin Eggplant Buns with a Thyme Fennel Relish and the Graffitti Burger, Garlic Fingerling Potatoes and Chipotle Mayonnaise. The buns were creamy with a melt-in-your-mouth savory, warm filling complemented by the fennel relish’s cooling crunch. The flavored lingered nicely on my palate. The Graffiti Burger was spicy and succulent flavored with anise, cumin and a mint relish that I couldn’t taste. It was probably my least favorite dish (still good!), especially since the fries prompted a discussion of the oil used rather than their flavor.
We tried all three desserts: Coconut Macaroons with Dulce de Leche, Warm Truffle Almond Strawberries with Pepper Ice Cream and a Hazelnut Chocolate Caviar Cupcake with Chocolate Chip Ice Cream. The macaroons were very hot and tastier than I remembered with just a hint of Dulce de Leche. The strawberries were most inventive and managed to please my palate, in spite of truffle meaning truffle oil, which for some reason reminds me of feet. My favorite was rich, warm chocolate cupcake topped with crispy caviar. It was simple and satisfying. All of the desserts were a sweet, but not too sweet finish to a great meal.
I highly recommend this restaurant. They accommodate vegetarian and gluten-free diets per their menu, so you have nothing to stop you. Reservations are recommended. Thanks Melanie and Eric for the recommendation!
Location: 224 East 10th Street (between 2nd and 1st Avenues)
Hours: Sun and Tues 5:30-10:30p, Wed-Sat 5:30-11:45p
Photo courtesy of Vika: She, Rafe and I at the top of Anthony's Nose