Restaurant reservations in New York City are harder to come by at this moment than at any other in recent memory. We have experienced it, some of the city’s top hospitality professionals have experienced it, and, while we hope you haven’t experienced that wistful pang when a promising new table for two is revealed to be out of reach, odds are that you have too.
So go ahead and add competitive going out to the list of things that are back in NYC, and prepare to adapt. Better planning won’t quite cut it, as a cursory review of our most-desired restaurants’ reservation pages still reveals almost comical blocks of no-go crimson, but the effort is marginally better than nothing. So is a willingness to eat at the less convenient hours of 5:30 or 10:15pm.
Competition’s fun, to a point, but when the prize involves so much compromise, exhaustion supplants adrenaline.
Resident, a mobile supper club with rotating chefs that first got rolling in 2018, endured the obvious pauses, prattled on with masks, socially distanced tables and other pandemic accouterments, is now more-or-less back to its intended existence. And it lends a little more control back to the guest.
Resident events may only be reserved in advance, but the process is more peaceful than our frenetic efforts to study restaurants’ availability the moment the following month’s slots are released to the public before those little tiles flip back from blue to red again like a race-paced round of Wheel of Fortune.
Eleven Resident dates are presently listed from now through August 21. Dinners are scheduled from 7-10pm and most tickets are $195 for five or more courses with wine pairing and gratuity. Locations include a Financial District penthouse, a Midtown lounge and a multi-million dollar private residence with an open kitchen and a player piano between two dive bars in the East Village. It's, you know, a moveable feast.
Each evening’s chef is scouted from august institutions like Eleven Madison Park, Gramercy Tavern, Blanca, Rezdôra and Atomix, an array seemingly allowing Resident’s intrepid assertion that it’s a “Michelin-grade dining experience.”
On a recent visit to the East Village address, a smattering of mostly two-tops were spaced throughout some rich person’s large—we’re gonna say—dining room, since it was adjacent to the kitchen, but it could have just as easily been a living room or roller rink. The ceilings were ego-high and doors to a private terrace lined the back wall. Branded matchbooks and hand sanitizer were laid on the finely set table.
We started with the only Aperol spritz we’ve ever liked, this one made with Prosecco rosé, which we learned was only officially sanctioned by the Italian government (think: Champagne vs. sparkling white wine) last year. Chef Andrew Bosi was working nearby.
Bosi’s resume includes turns at TAK Room, Rezdôra and a current role at Print. Resident enables Bosi, and each of its guest chefs, to author and execute their own menus. This one was primarily a pasta tasting, starting with hand-fashioned corzetti with pungent pecorino, pine nuts and fennel, followed by a creste de gallo filled with ricotta and topped with a rich chicken ragu, fat spaghetti alla chitarra with lobster and bright flavors of sambuca and orange and a rectangle of pork loin with tiny lentils and foraged mushrooms. Bosi spoke between courses, about how coming from a background of builders led him to pasta making, regional italian cooking, and how many egg yolks can fit in one dish. (A lot.)
Each wine was detailed, too, and QR codes at tables indicated where to buy them. It’s a neat trick that lifts the veil a bit, but also arouses curiosity about why, a particularly nice nebbiolo from Lombardy, for example, wasn’t poured a little more generously, being that it was selling for $19, retail.
The taste of a Marsala Superiore sweet DOC ($9.90 a bottle) was lovely with Bosi’s dessert, too: olive oil cake with plump, bright cherries and a cloud of dark chocolate ganache. The pair was perfect, the slightly viscous wine perking up the airy bitter chocolate. We’d have welcomed a few more sips.
Between the chefs and the wine pros and Resident’s operators, there is a lot of talk throughout the three-hour affair, so this is not a contemplative conversation kind of place. The little bits of showmanship are entertaining and, we suppose, particularly conducive to the communal dinners (larger tables shared with strangers) Resident is soon to reintroduce.
Ironically, all of Resident’s moving parts amount to one of the easiest nights out in town. The menu is set so you never actually order anything, there are no wine lists to negotiate or tip math to calculate and it’s ticketed in advance so you don’t even sign a check before you leave. The only thing left out is the heart-thumping satisfaction of finally settling into a hard-won reservation in earshot of people asking to add their names to the list. But you’ll probably get that adrenaline back up when you try to get a Lyft home.