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Mr. Donahue's (CLOSED)

Restaurants, Soul and southern American Nolita
4 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Friendly warning! We're working hard to be accurate. But these are unusual times, so please check that venues remain open.

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.

By: Christina Izzo



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