East End Kitchen
539 East 81st Street
City: New York, NY
Phone: (212) 879-0450
Site: Visit the restaurant site
2nd Cuisine: Family Friendly
Area: East 80s
Low key, casual and very handy in this part of Yorkville where restaurants can be hard to come by, East End Kitchen fills the bill. Owners Allan and Diane Carlin redid the former Boeuf a la Mode spot because they wanted to provide diners with a local place to showcase organic, sustainable foodstuffs which led to this "American Bistro." While not a knock-your-socks-off dining experience, the food is more than decent and some offerings, like the house burger and the very well- prepared scallops are first class. At the next table, one eater raved about his ahi tuna that looked photo-worthy and reported that his (huge) bowl of gazpacho had been excellent.
This is a popular spot for brunchers who flock in from 11 am to 3 pm on Saturdays and Sundays to chow down on the smoked salmon Benedict, bacon-enhanced brunch pizza, omelets made with a choice of two ingredients that can include mushrooms, various cheese, tomatoes and caramelized onions and comes with roasted potatoes and toast as well as a Bloody Mary, Mimosa or other drinkables. Brunch gets crowded and draws lots of babies leading to a fair amount of noise.
The chopped salad, available at all mealtimes, is a tad lackluster due to an insufficiency of feta and anemic lettuce but the shrimp and avocado salad in a herby dressing with oranges is dandy. On Wednesday nights there is a very popular mussel special with fifteen different preparations ranging from a classic with shallots and white wine to a miso ginger take, all served with fries and aioli. A full order is $22. Baked goods and desserts, ranging from breakfast muffins to homemade doughnuts served with a trio of dipping sauces to the mixed berry cobbler with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream, are excellent.
Bar Bites include little taquitos, beef sliders and pommes frites with both ketchup and aioli and make a pleasant way to kick back to enjoy a drink and light fare. The restaurant provides a kids' menu with mac-and-cheese, fish sticks and the like; serves the usual range of coffee drinks and sodas and offers delivery.
Both the exterior and inside decor are clean and inviting starting with the spare front doors and continuing into the dining room with cream-colored walls, antique mirrors, reclaimed oak tables and a long bar up front. Service is erratic, warm and friendly but a little slow. The wine selection is large and the bar can whip out specialty cocktails and also offers numerous beers. On Monday and Tuesday nights take advantage of the deal of one-half off the price of a bottle of any wine served with an entree.
Prices are pretty reasonable given the UES setting. A reservation at dinner and brunch is a good idea because the paucity of dining in the area makes this restaurant busy. Credit cards are welcome. Overall, East End Kitchen is a crowd-pleaser in an otherwise almost deserted part of town.
Review By: Mari Gold