This hidden subterranean spot (look for the red neon sign above an inconspicuous stairway), is tucked away on an obscure Lower East Side block, but it’s worth seeking out. The restaurant has three equally enchanting dining areas: a slender, candlelit alcove with exposed brick and rustic farmhouse tables; another room resembles the cabin of a ship, with porthole windows and navy wainscotting; and, in the back, a garden strewn with Christmas lights, pillows and candles beckons romance. Chef Mathew Knoll sends out consistently well-executed dishes. Pumpkin is stuffed into tender pockets of pasta and laid down in a light butter-sage sauce; organic Cornish hen is pan-roasted in a spicy balsamic reduction, which yields delightfully juicy meat. Instead of the traditional apple tart, Schmidt pairs apple strudel with a sampling of apple, cinnamon, raisin and vanilla ice creams—which, much like everything else about this place, provides a bounty of unexpected gifts.
100 Forsyth St
|Cross street:||between Broome and Grand Sts|
|Opening hours:||Mon–Wed 6–11pm; Thu–Sat 6pm–midnight|
|Transport:||Subway: B, D to Grand St; J, M, Z to Bowery|
|Price:||Average main course: $17. AmEx, DC, Disc, MC, V|