Something is happening to the East 60s. It’s as if the neighborhood is stirring, slowly waking up from a deep sleep that it’s been in since, well, the ’60s. Here’s a little bit of history for you. Did you know that this part of town used to be home to the hottest singles scene in New York City circa 1965? And that the epicenter of that scene was the original T.G.I. Friday’s, on 63rd and 1st? Seriously. The pill had just been invented, and for some reason, people were flocking from all over the city to Friday’s for a cocktail and some casual sex, and maybe an appetizer sampler. Imagine that. There was a point in time where you could pick up something other than heart disease at T.G.I. Friday’s.
Clearly, times have changed, as this neighborhood is mostly inhabited by a bunch of rich people that probably remember those days. Rich people and me. I’ve actually been an East 60s resident for nearly seven years, and while I love it for many reasons, the dining and nightlife options are not among them. Other than a few key standbys, this area for the last several decades has basically consisted of places that are either marginally better or marginally worse than China Fun. That’s our median. Or at least it was.
Things appear to be improving around here when it comes to restaurants, and the most important improvement just came via a partnership between The Fat Radish and the Martignetti brothers, whom you probably know best for Brinkley’s. The two entities have teamed up to essentially bring The Fat Radish uptown, with some of the sceney sensibilities that the Martignettis are known for. We’ve been to The East Pole a few times now and can tell you that they hit the nail on the head. This place is exactly the youthful shot in the arm that this area needed. The vibe is decidedly downtown, the food is as good as it is at The Fat Radish, they stay open until 3am, and the staff are all very nice, or at least they are for now. These Upper East Side ladies can be brutal. On our last visit, we saw a few of them drinking white wine outside and chain smoking cigarettes, just looking for someone to talk down to.
As a matter of fact, part of the challenge for the East Pole will be whether or not they can maintain some of the downtown appeal to this place, rather than surrendering it completely to the Real Housewives of You Aren’t On TV. And even in the best case scenario, this restaurant alone won’t resurrect the nightlife scene in the East 60′s again. At least it’s a step in the right direction. And a place for me to eat.
This dark red hummus made from beets is pretty to look at and pretty good to eat, too. Served with a plate of other colorful vegetables, it certainly made us feel like we were eating healthy. Maybe too healthy.
Surprisingly, this is something we’d recommend you skip when you hit The East Pole. We’re usually all about the times in life when crab meets toast, but this example lacked seasoning, and the bread was under-toasted. So... it was bread.
We’re going to go out on a limb here and bet that anything on this menu preceded by the word “heirloom” is going to be good. The carrots certainly are, especially when paired with avocado and seaweed.
An excellent crudo, plated with some sweet corn on our visit. Order it.
A thick but light pumpkin soup with dried fruit. This is delicious, and high on the list of reasons why fall is awesome.
A tomato-flavored pasta, served with fennel and pork sausage. We love everything about this - except the pasta itself. It tends to be a little tough. The sausage, however, is incredible.
A bacon cheeseburger, served with steak fries that have been cooked in duck fat. You know what to do.