We're all familiar with the current New York restaurant trends - bakery by day/restaurant by night establishments, nose to tail cooking, never-ending tastings that cost as much as a small car. Feast is a new restaurant in the East Village that checks off a lot of those boxes. It is indeed a bakery during the day, and they most definitely embrace the "whole animal" mentality at night. But, as suggested by the name, this is not an expensive tasting menu situation. Feast is a meal meant to be shared amongst friends. You sit down and they load up your table, Thanksgiving style.
Feast's concept is fun. We definitely give them credit for mixing it up and taking a different approach to restaurant dining, and making it affordable in the process. The menu here consists of two different meals: a "farmer's market" vegetarian feast ($38 pp) and a "nose to tail" meat feast ($48 pp). There's also the option to order from a separate a la carte menu, just in case feasting isn't in your nature. In theory, it all sounds wonderful. But we took issue with the set up once we realized we had to abide by all kinds of rules. We don't do well with rules. Especially at the dinner table.
Here's the deal - feasts at Feast are made for two people, so you and your dining companion need to agree on either meat or vegetarian. You can't each order your own. If there's more than two and less than four of you, you're kind of f*cked. We had three people in our party and were frustrated by the fact that you can't order two meat feasts and one veggie feast. I begged and pleaded with our server, trying to reach a compromise by asking for single servings of select dishes on the veggie feast instead of the whole thing. But they weren't having it. She was visibly annoyed by our attempts too, which just made the situation worse. The most frustrating part is that each dish comes as a small duo. Would it really be that hard to stuff a singular eggplant with risotto and broccoli rabe instead of two? We think not. At any rate, we pushed on, and (menu gripes aside) we wound up enjoying our meal here. We were impressed with the imagination on display in dishes like the Oxtail Steak n' Eggs and the Lamb Shank Lasagna. It was also nice to have a huge table of food to eat from at your leisure, along with a reasonably priced and well curated beer and wine list to drink from. No single thing that we ate absolutely blew our mind, but this is definitely a restaurant we'd come back to, especially when we need a place for a Big Groups meal...as long as we've got an even number of people.
Nose To Tail Lamb Feast
Razor thin slices of raw lamb are wrapped around honey crisp apple strips, drizzled with almond shavings and served with a delicious and spicy cognac mustard. The portion size is tiny, but the flavor is large.Merguez Stew
This was our favorite dish of the appetizer feast - a quail egg sitting in the middle of a tomato and lamb stew. It tasted like breakfast, which seemed to be a bit of a theme here. I guess that's what happens when you double as a pastry shop during the day. We're not complaining.Shepherd's Pie
Conceptually, this was really cool. It's a personal pastry of sweet potato pie, with a delicious square of lamb belly on top. But while it looked and sounded great, but it wound up being two separate components that just didn't work well together. The lamb belly was delicious, but it just kind of sat there on top of the dry, unforgiving pie.Roasted Pepper Salad
Sliced roasted peppers in a rich French onion sauce (soubise). This is sort of a sloppy mess, but it has all kinds of flavor. We liked it.Lasagna
The most impressive dish of the night. This lasagna is a wide, thin layer of pasta, wrapped around lamb shank, wrapped around goat cheese, and topped with broccoli rabe. This is different. This is interesting. And this is delicious.Rack of lamb
Let's call this good, not great. Our lamb was a little dry, and there was so much herby crust that it actually detracted from the flavor of the meat. At least it photographed nicely.Potato Gratin
Potatoes and cheese. Obviously good.Fricasse Of Winter Vegetables
Also known as a brussels sprouts salad with pearl onions and butternut squash. This ended up being one of our favorite dishes at Feast. "Butter To Flour"
Dessert was insanely delicious here. It was essentially a sweet pizza with pear and maple walnuts on top, and a side of bourbon and lightly sweetened cream to add to the goodness.
A La Carte Menu
Steak N' Eggs
Hello insane breakfast for dinner. This was crazy in the best way possible. Shredded oxtail, on top of soft toast with a fried egg and béarnaise sauce. Incredible.Smoked Salmon
Yikes. This was terrible. The salmon was served as a filet and was nearly raw and kind of cold. And the apple fennel slaw was soaked in a not-so-tasty cider. No thanks.Chicken N' Dumplings
Big chunks of chicken are paired with a "liver gnocchi" and crispy pieces of chicken skin for added crunch. It's a nice use of many different chicken parts, but we probably wouldn't order this again.