Beef with sesame spaetzle and fried bok choy.

Beef with sesame spaetzle and fried bok choy. Photograph: Jeff Gurwin

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5

There’s anxiety in the air at JoeDoe, the slim eatery that opened last month just a stone’s throw from East Village mainstay Prune. It could be driven by owners Joe Dobias and Jill Schulster’s community-board struggles, which finally ended with the receipt of a liquor license. Or perhaps it’s the dining room—an antiques-filled gem that despite its good looks, has remained criminally empty. But given our recent experience at the restaurant, we don’t anticipate it staying that way for long. Here, Dobias (Savor NY) gives life to his wildest, and most successful, impulses: An appetizer of griddled challah smeared with smooth chicken liver takes on a subversive (and delicious) edge when sandwiched with smoky bacon and caramelized onions. An inventive entrée features tender slices of beef served with sesame spaetzle—a clever play on cold Asian noodles—and a gorgeous curl of bok choy, petrified in a translucent batter. A beautifully seared veal chop is intriguingly paired with flavors more commonly seen with lamb: foam-green pea gnocchi and cool, minty yogurt. Desserts tread more familiar ground. A banana-bread sundae was pleasant enough in its restrained sweetness, but the wildflower honey custard possessed an off-putting texture not unlike cold butter. That misstep aside, JoeDoe offers one of the most complete and satisfying restaurant experiences in recent memory. Prune, the heat is on.

45 E 1st St between First and Second Aves (212-780-0262). Subway: F, V to Lower East Side–Second Ave. Mon, Wed, Thu 5–11pm; Fri 5pm–midnight; Sat 11am–4pm, 5pm–midnight; Sun 11am–4pm, 5–11pm. Average main course: $25.