Restaurant Review: Stanton Social

Reviewed April 10, 2009

With my sister in town Friday night, dinner stop #1 on our agenda was Stanton Social, a restaurant on the Lower East Side that features a menu of small dishes meant for sharing with the table tapas-style. It’s not the sort of place I frequent on my own steam (things get pricey as those little plates add up!), though this was actually my second visit there. The first was on a match.com date in early 2006 😛

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Emily and I started with drinks while we waited for her friend Yan to arrive. (Speaking of Yan, I met her for the first time when I visited Emily in Barcelona in 1998. Em and Yan were in the same MBA program there, and Emily flew me out for my 16th birthday and the best week of my life up to that point :D)

So back to the drink. I don’t order drinks in restaurants very often these days — usually too much money for something I’m not all that passionate about — but this cocktail menu was amazing, and I have a weakness for drinks with real fruit purees in them! After some negotiating with the bartender (I wanted the fig puree and pear simple syrup of the fig martini; he claimed it wouldn’t work without the strong bourbon flavor), we settled on a compromise, and he made it with pear vodka. It was delicious and such a pretty color! Then, he told me I reminded him of Danny DeVito in Get Shorty with my focus on one random ingredient that was not meant to be the star of the show. I did not really get the reference since I don’t think I’ve seen Get Shorty, but I got a kick out of the comparison anyway since I get that a lot about me and Danny DeVito . Ummmm, anyway …

When Yan arrived, we got seated at a table just under the skylight (yay for natural light!), though things got progressively dimmer as the meal went on, which you’ll see in the photos.

While we perused the menu, some complementary bruchetta arrived with ricotta, fresh tomato, basil, and grated parmesan. Ohhhhhh, yum. We each had one slice:
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I am SUCH a fan of bruchetta, and the ricotta put this one over the top.

Our first small plate was the wild mushroom risotto cakes with a “dusting of parmagiano and crispy mushroom chips.” Again, we had one each:

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Next was duck confit empanadas with blood orange sauce. Ohhhhhh my goodness. Emily and I split these, so we each had 1.5:

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Roast beets with goat cheese and lavender honey:

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Regular and golden:

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Butternut squash and sweet potato ravioli with vanilla brown butter and candied pecans:

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(We each had one ravioli.)

Grilled apple and brie quesadilla with mustard maple glaze and smoked bacon bits:

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My slice with the bits:

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And, finally, zucchini tempura with tomato jam and asiago:

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I had the skewer on top. That tomato jam was amazing!

After much debate, we decided on “The Chocolate Tasting” for dessert. Ohhhh my goodness, it was huuuuuuuuuuge. Far exceeded my expectations size-wise:

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I broke down and took a picture with flash so I could capture all the details since it was getting so dark in there. Left to right: hazelnut truffles, s’mores molten lava cake, chocolate panna cotta, dark chocolate pudding (layered with chocolate wafer crumbs!), chocolate dulce de leche ice cream, homemade peppermint patties, and more hazelnut balls:

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My plate with a little bit of everything:

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The ice cream and the peppermint patty were definitely the best parts! I had a little bit more pudding … and two more truffle balls. Those balls put me over the edge and left me suffering from some slight chocolate overload.

Good thing dinner #2 was right around the corner, ack! At this point, Emily and I went for a short walk and some tea to cleanse our palettes, so to speak.

Aside from the expansion, Stanton Social was just as delicious and fun as I remembered. I loved being able to taste so many different flavors in small and manageable portions. But, phew, that dessert was INTENSE. Better suited for five people than three is my analysis … and that means a lot since you KNOW I can put away some serious food!

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