photo credit: Emily Schindler
Houseman is in a part of Soho that's mainly known for the mess of cars constantly trying to squeeze into the Holland Tunnel, which means you'll find fewer people competing for a seat here than you would at a place like Balthazar. And that's one big reason why we like it here.
The menu is designed to look like a newspaper with a to-the-point daily weather report, and you should start every meal with the creamy smoked bluefish salad served with chickpea and caraway seed crackers. It’ll remind you of a great whitefish salad you can get on a Saturday morning at a bagel shop. The refreshing tardivo salad with two kinds of oranges and grapefruit is another standout, and if you’re in a Thanksgiving sort of mood, you should get the crispy-skinned roast half chicken in a buttery cashew sauce with big chunks of yams.
The number one reason to come to Houseman, however, will always be the rich and juicy burger, which comes with two thin patties that somehow stay completely pink in the middle. We hate how you can’t really taste the cheese in some burgers, but there's plenty of gooey swiss cheese on this one (merged with caramelized onions and mushrooms) that comes through in every bite.
Houseman reminds us of what a farmhouse would look like if you dropped one in lower Manhattan and turned it over to a decorator. They don’t try to pack guests together (you might see a couple seated at a table for five), so come here when you want to catch up with people and not have to shout at everyone. Although when your friend starts explaining his latest theories on "how this country needs to move forward," you might wish that you couldn’t hear him so well.
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We love salads, but do they routinely get us really excited? Not so much. But something about the combination of the olive oil, salt, and gochugaru—along with the sweet-tartness of the oranges and grapefruit and bitterness of the tardivo—in this dish makes us always want to order a second one to go.
A cold, creamy salad made with bluefish, mayo, mustard, and spices. You'll get gluten-free chickpea and seeded crackers on the side that will remind you of rye bread. We're into the smokiness, but note that it's on the salty side.
The burger is the reason you come to Houseman. We know it can be difficult to not overcook thin burger patties, but the kitchen definitely manages not to do that here. Don't dismiss the sides as afterthoughts. The fries have a nice mix of cripsy outside/soft inside, and the thick and crunchy cucumbers are light because they're only ever-so-slightly pickled.
This huge portion of roasted chicken is served in a pool of sauce made with cashews and a ton of butter. The crispy skin and crunchy bits of rosemary are nice touches, but we wish the meat was a little more juicy.