The crew behind The Fat Radish, one of my favorite Lower East Side restaurants (semi-expensive division), mostly for its sparkling-fresh veggies, deftly handled, have just planted their farm-to-table flag on the Upper East Side in the form of this pretty, lively spot, East Pole.
Opened by owners Ben Towill and Phil Winser, who have teamed up with Brinkley’s show-runners Tom and Anthony Martignetti for the new venture AND placed Fat Radish executive chef Nicholas Wilber in the kitchen, East Pole is marvelous combination of Upper East Side elegance and downtown fun. Oh, and it also serves some really delicious food.
New Restaurant Opening Hype
My newly-vegetarian companion and I had an early dinner at East Pole on its first weekend, and were struck by how jumping the place was. Sure, new restaurants with exciting pedigrees get a lot of pre-opening hype these days, but still, we went on the Friday of Labor Day weekend, when most of the locals were likely beach-housing somewhere, so to hear that we had to leave by 7:30 because all the tables would by then be filled with reservations (not to mention to just HEAR the surprisingly rowdy bar scene up front), well… clearly, despite its classic brownstone setting, East Pole is a new sort of Upper East Side creature.
The Eat Pole Menu’s Greatest Hits
The East Pole menu has many “greatest hits” from Fat Radish, which is excellent news. The Bacon Cheeseburger’s here (with its attendant duck-fat fries), for instance, as is the first-rate Scotch Egg, and your meal begins not with a bread basket but with a plate of, um, fat radishes. Since we were going full-vegetarian, we began with The Fat Radish/East Pole Grilled Cheese “snack”, and it was just as good as I remembered from downtown: the sourdough bread appropriately oily, the cheese with some bite, the grainy mustard and house-made pickles bringing both acid and sweetness to the party. Equally terrific was our order from the starter section of the East Pole menu, an impeccably curated (if you will) Heirloom Tomato and Avocado Squash salad that exploded with late-summer goodness, thanks in no small part to the creamy kefir lime dressing.
Veggie Goodness Made With Love
Next up: more vegetables and grains! As a side we chose the Wilted Greens, which were bright and bitter, with Anchovy Crumbs which, sadly, tasted nothing their namesake. Is Chef Wilber getting timid with his flavors now that he’s cooking uptown? Man, I hope not! The East Pole Macro Plate was next, offering a few bites each of many different sides and salads and such, then served as an entree on a long platter (it’s the East Pole counterpart to the popular Fat Radish Plate downtown). There was no denying the love that went into the preparation here–the pearly onions with humus, the roasted acorn squash, and the sweet carrots were standouts–but again there was a issue with the seasoning, or lack thereof. Had there been a crock of Maldon salt on the table, it would have been eagerly, liberally crushed and sprinkled across the whole plate. I’ll have to go back in few weeks and see if Chef Wilber has amped things up a bit… and to eat some meat.
More Information: The East Pole
East Pole is located on 65th Street between Lexington and Park Avenues and is open daily at 5:30 for dinner, serving food and drinks until 1:00 a.m. on Sunday through Wednesday, and until 2:00 a.m. on Thursday through Saturday. Lunch and brunch are “coming soon”. A skylight brightens the dining room; a few outdoor tables up front add to the appeal. For more information please see the East Pole website!