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Mr. Donahue's (CLOSED)

  • Restaurants
  • Nolita
  • price 2 of 4
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

It’s a curious little place, Mr. Donahue’s. The pint-size restaurant from married co-chefs Matt Danzer and Ann Redding—who, following Michelin-starred acclaim for their electric Thai cooking at Uncle Boons, pivoted to soft-focused Americana for this Nolita follow-up—boasts just nine seats: five tall vinyl stools at a lunch counter and a pair of two-tops tucked in a corner. It’s named after Danzer’s grandfather, and geriatric-chic curios abound in the wood-paneled nook: Places are set with dainty doilies, vases of pale carnations and vintage china; the playlist is heavy on bebop standards; and, by meal’s end, nondescript hard candies find their way into your pocket.

The menu is inspired by the South’s hearty meat-and-three tradition, although here it’s more of meat-and-two: Choose a protein—rib-sticking comforts like “Swedish-American” meatballs ($16) and audaciously battered chicken-fried pork cheeks ($19)—along with an included sauce and two sides ($7 à la carte). The sauce-and-side options are dizzying: Cowboy butter butts against mushroom marsala and spicy avocado dressing; barbecued oysters cozy up to asparagus almondine and parmigiana-style pattypan squash.

It’s a head-scratching spread, no doubt, but Danzer and Redding’s adaptable cooking acts as a through line. The kitchen’s slow-roasted beef ($26) is a beaut, blushed pink and pepper-charred; you can gravy it with horseradish-zipped steak sauce, but there’s really no need. A half rotisserie chicken ($19) may be more generic than gutsy, but it’s judiciously juicy inside its golden skin, and those gamy pork cheeks are tender beneath all that crag; a side of honey mustard-seed sauce serves them well. Skip rubbery jerk mushrooms for skin-on marble potatoes webbed with Mimolette cheese and chives; creamy, Tabasco-charged crab imperial spooned atop store-bought saltine crackers; or crispy onions that taste like they were lifted straight off the top of mom’s green-bean casserole.

Such comforts offset some natural frustrations at Mr. Donahue’s (meals are eaten, very literally, elbow-to-elbow). But in the ceaseless chaos of New York and, more pointedly, its food scene, we’ll take simple pleasures where we can get them.

Written by
Christina Izzo


203 Mott St
New York
Cross street:
between Spring and Kenmare Sts
Subway: 6 to Spring St (Lafayette St); J, Z to Bowery
Average main course: $20
Opening hours:
Daily 5–11pm
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