When it comes to dining in a city with endless options, one of my main considerations in choosing a restaurant is a menu inspired by seasonal ingredients. This might sound like a basic requirement, but If you've ever bitten into an out-of-season tomato, then you know just how important this is. Understanding what ingredients are at their peak in freshness and flavor is essential, but having the skill to artfully innovate classic dishes is another level of culinary expertise. At newly opened Bespoke Kitchen in the West Village, Chef Franco Barrio does just that, but with a twist: here guests can select their ingredients from a curated list, then the chef will create a dish based on the guest's specific tastes and preferences. It's a personal, intimate experience that turned out to be one of my favorite meals in a long time.
We started our evening with the requisite cocktail. Now I usually don't order mixed drinks due to their high sugar content, but when the general manager introduced The Bespoke Cocktail featuring seasonal fruits selected by the chef that day, watermelon and cantaloupe, I was intrigued. Paired with vodka and mint, the subtly sweet drink was almost too enjoyable as you try to identify the delightful flavors–a sign of expert mixology. The Bespoke Cocktail is a weekly blend of fresh seasonal ingredients from the market, which keeps the menu interesting week to week.
True to the concept and name, I asked the chef to prepare "a beautiful vegetarian dish" and the kitchen delivered a stunning Heirloom Tomato Salad with Sugar Cube Cantaloupe, Koppert Cress Flowers and Pesto. The end-of-summer dish was perfectly balanced with savory, bright flavors contrasted with the earthy pesto.
As we approach the cooler months, restaurants that have a cozy, warm vibe are at the top of everyone's list. Bespoke is a unique hybrid that has a chameleon-like quality–airy and open for summer dining, yet, intimate and warm for a romantic fall evening or holiday soiree. With beautiful lighting, appealing, textured artwork and stunning floral arrangements, the interior is a soothing backdrop to the dynamic cuisine that suits the neighborhood–perfect for attracting that sought-after regular clientele.
615½ Hudson St. New York, NY 10014