THIS RESTAURANT HAS SADLY CLOSED
It’s that time of year when home and hearth come into play once again. Rituals, memories, gathering and toasting one’s blessings…with all the local (as well as global tragedy), having a warm comfortable place to rest your bones takes on an even deeper ethos.
This whole home-is-where-the-heart-is concept is never more present than in the year-old lovely intimate spot called Family Recipe on the lower east side. Chef/owner Akiko Thurnhauer says she grew up with a food obsessed, well traveled family in Tokyo so her influence has been cast from a wide net and she neatly wraps her passion up in elegantly creative, non-traditional home cooking.
The atmosphere is a twist on mid-century, it’s ultra modern and cozy with a jazz soundtrack and convivial staff. The curved ceiling, open kitchen surrounded by a sushi bar perfectly support a menu based on very seasonal food. It’s clearly high quality, has snap, taste, a foothold in yesteryear but oh so now.
Her food is not about technical prowess or twee configurations of the latest undiscovered ingredient. (not that that’s a bad thing!) It’s more about cooking by inspiration and instinct. It’s the Japanese cooking version of Rosemary Clooney singing Come On-A My House only this time it’s Akiko and she offers up her home, her heart, her food.
We started with Shishito Peppers in 7 spices.
Loved the Rock Shrimp and Squid Ink Okomonmiyaki, alive with dancing bonito flakes when it arrives at the table. Impossible to capture in my iphone but definitely added a bit of joie de vivre to the food. Not quite as great tho still tasty was the vegetarian version, a tempura crumble with chives, cauliflower and peanuts. On a special note, most any dish can be made as vegetarian or vegan.
Crispy Organic Tofu in lemon grass dashi and a chunky hot shallot sauce, with ginger and an herb salad was a favorite for me, light and playfully seasoned, it melted on my tongue.
Yeah, I liked it.
I didn’t get photos of all the dishes but we had a small feast. Ingredients like shiso cream with a cauliflower steak, kale pesto over Japanese mackerel, or poached pear with double garlic chicken liver buns are surprising and delightful. And the chef’s hand with desserts is quite impressive. But tho it’s not about the precision and solemnity of most Japanese cooking it certainly captures the soul and imagination of the culture.
Loved the beer selection too.
231 Eldridge Street between Houston/Stanton Street
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