Mr. Donahue's (CLOSED)
Time Out says
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.
203 Mott St
|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|
|Do you own this business?|