The Fat Radish
The restaurant equivalent of just a pretty face.
Fri Dec 17 2010
Time Out Ratings<strong>Rating: </strong>2/5
With its flattering studio lighting, photo-ready waitstaff in plaid shirts, and model-friendly menu heavy on virginal vegetables, the Fat Radish is catnip for downtown dandies and other denizens of the fashion flock.
But while the restaurant—the brick-and-mortar debut of Silkstone catering—draws the same crowd as the stylish parties its owners have nourished since 2008, the setup seems simply too calculated to woo New York cynics for very long.
You'll never look better than when you're seated inside, surrounded by votives at a distressed farmhouse table. But the shabby-chic space, as meticulously curated as an Anthropologie store, lacks warmth and personality. The same can be said of the earnest, Anglo-leaning cooking. It's painfully on-trend—homespun, multicultural, Greenmarket, low-fat—but so short on innovation, this place might as well be an H&M knockoff.
There are conscientious salads, like raw and cooked cauliflower drizzled with thick curried yogurt, an amateur version of the sort of dish you might find in more boisterous form at ABC Kitchen. And there's dinner-party fare, like an earthy celery-root potpie appetizer, under a photogenic dome of flaky puff pastry—tasty, yes, but too easy to replicate at home to merit its $15 price tag.
And though there's plenty of meat here, it's mostly been stripped of the butter and fat that defines so much restaurant food. While the size-zero clientele may applaud these cuts, it's easy to notice what's been lost in the trade-off. Perfect pink duck breast, sliced thick and rustic, comes fanned on a mix of bland wheat berries and mealy roasted squash. An oversize arctic char fillet is also nicely cooked, but the flaky fish arrives on a clumsy base of overly vinegared red cabbage with mushy apples. Monkfish vindaloo, a more exciting dish with plenty of flavor, also tastes like home-cooking improv—all sweet and no heat, curried fish neutered for timid palates.
Desserts continue in the same homey vein: The moist chocolate-beetroot cake and warm banana bread drenched in clotted cream are charming enough as apartment fare, but not terribly professional. As a healthy alternative to most restaurant cooking, the food overall isn't really that bad—but with serious pricing (entres hover around the $20 mark), it probably ought to be better than that.
Eat this: Celery-root potpie, monkfish vindaloo, banana bread with clotted cream
Drink this: Like the menu, the wine list skews pricey. A 3 Degrees pinot noir from Oregon (bottle $56, glass $14), a solid moderate choice, is a light, peppery match for the earthy food.
Sit here: The dining room, filled mostly with big wooden tables, is ideal for large groups. The long table in the middle of the room will put your crew at the center of the action.
Conversation piece: The Fat Radish's parent company, Silkstone, has catered events sponsored by high-end brands like Vogue and Christian Dior. But it's also got a hand in the artisanal food movement: Last spring it debuted Toogood Traders, an omelette stand at Hester Street Fair.
17 Orchard St between Canal and Hester Sts (212-300-4053). Subway: B, D to Grand St. Mon--Fri 5:30pm--midnight; Sat 11am--4pm, 5:30pm--midnight; Sun 11am--4pm, 5:30--10pm. Average main course: $20.