Half the city’s restaurants are currently in an arms race to see who can have the plainest white walls, but not Ella Funt. This East Village spot has a neon-lit kitchen, a gallery-worthy art collection, and a gilded bathroom that’ll make you feel immeasurably wealthy for two to three minutes, depending on how hydrated you are.
Named for a drag artist who performed at the club that once occupied the basement (which the owners plan to revive), the place feels slick and offbeat in a way that fits the neighborhood. But, cool as it is, we wouldn’t recommend a full dinner here. If you want to check out this restaurant equivalent of Prada shades paired with Dr. Martens, sit at the bar, drink a glass of skin contact wine, and stick to just one or two French and Asian-inspired small plates.
Ella Funt’s neobistro menu starts out strong, and fizzles toward the end. The crunchy little pork croquettes with comte are fantastic, and the tartine with uni and burrata is a certified cheat code. But it’s hard to get amped about a pricey strip steak drowning in a heavy tarragon sauce, or a single ricotta raviolo that tastes like a brief, unsatisfying recap of a story you’ve heard a few times before.
To make the most of this place, treat it like a buzzy wine bar or gallery opening, and bring someone who has a rough idea of what they’d wear to the next Raf Simons show. The two of you can explore the natural wine list while you take in the ambiance, which is ultimately more compelling than the food.
Croquettes de Cochon
Crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside, these bite-sized croquettes contain a rich mixture of pork and comté that pairs perfectly with the mustard sauce on the side. Every evening at Ella Funt should involve at least one order.
Given our city’s obsession with uni and burrata, you’d think every downtown restaurant would be serving some version of this tartine. It’s a winning formula, and the mala oil is a very nice touch.
Tartare de Boeuf
Unlike your typical steak tartare, this version—which comes with lettuce cups on the side—tastes light and citrusy. It’s a good dish, but not an essential order.
We aren’t huge fans of the larger plates at Ella Funt, but if you have to choose one, go for the chicken. Surprisingly, the best part of the dish is the charred lettuce stuffed with dill, tarragon, and asparagus.
Dry Aged Strip Loin
A good steak, without a doubt. But a good steak isn’t hard to find in this city, and this $65 one comes hidden under a blanket of thick, overpowering sauce. If you do go this route, ask for the sauce on the side.