June 7, 2011 @ 12:49 pm
Remember Thor? Yeah, me neither. Hotel on Rivington has been a diamond in the rough for some time now awaiting the right people to come along and revive its downtown destiny. Finally the space that so many locals have written off has been given the allure that it deserves.
CO-OP is the new American brasserie and sushi bar in the Hotel on Rivington. Partners Alan Philips and Jason Apfelbaum have teamed up to change the game with stunning success.
Last week at the press preview of CO-OP I got to experience the first of several concepts these two are cooking up in the Hotel on Rivington. Upon arrival, each guest was greeted with a Pink Bazooka (fresh watermelon, Grey Goose, a coconut water ice cube, and fresh basil) cocktail and truffle popcorn, rather than bread. No carbs people, GENIUS. The drink was just the beginning of the overwhelming two-page tasting menu. We indulged in five courses of delectable dishes each one better than the last.
Rather than just choosing food from a menu the creators of CO-OP aim to make dining a “creative exercise”. Chef John Keller (Le Bernardin, Nobu, Bruno Jamais) and sushi Chef Stephan Wong (Sushi of Gari, Megu, Sushi Hana) pair up to offer an extensive menu that leaves no taste bud left behind. Each course was accompanied by beverage ranging from cocktails, to sake to wine, delicately selected to create just the right palate combination with the food.
The best appetizer was the Kale Caesar Salad, Kale is having a major moment and I’m all about it. On the sushi side, you cannot go wrong with the CO-OP roll, my dream creation, a spicy tuna roll topped with rock shrimp a la Nobu. Of all the options, my preferred plate was the Black Cod Butter Lettuce Cups. Proprietor, Jason Apfelbaum came over and introduced the dish himself as “the Lady Killer” deeming it every woman’s number one choice on the menu. It was light, fresh and outrageously delicious, aptly named.
Naturally I asked Apfelbaum, “so then, what drink is the Man Eater?” I shouldn’t have asked. I think Jason brought over every single creation that master mixologist Julio Torres has to offer. The truffle dirty martini won in my personal cocktail tasting.
An extensive guest list of bloggers and foodies filled the windowed ceiling dining room, which draws intense inspiration from the early 1970’s blended with pretentious punk rock flair created by A-list designers DeVinn Bruce and John Rawlins. A combination of ambiance and easy-going staff make for a most agreeable experience. The entertaining environment practically encourages guests to linger over food and drinks.
A constant game of, “Do you know who that is?” or “How good does she look?” was played during dinner. Not about the guests themselves, but about the massive portraits that saturate the walls of the dining room. The 36 portraits were selected from the portfolio of celebrity photographer EJ Camp. Each person was chosen by his or her importance and relevance to the success of downtown New York. Tommy Gun, Patricia Field, Debbie Harry, Fred Austin, Rachel Gallagher and Betsey Johnson all have their Polaroid portrait on the wall. A little known fact, Apfelbaum revealed that CO-OP used the last Polaroid film in the country to make those oversized portraits come to life. Pretty groovy, huh?
Pastry chef Mame Sow whipped up three desserts for the final course of the evening. Her sticky toffee cupcake is like a little taste of heaven. It is a must-try.
Alan Phillips and his Guerrilla Culinary Brigade have knocked it out of the park with CO-OP. With such an extensive range of food and beverage coupled with the unique ambiance, it is the perfect compliment to one of New York’s most diverse neighborhoods, the Lower East Side. This team has only just begun, making CO-OP their first conquest in a series of concepts they will be launching at the Hotel on Rivington. Stayed tuned.
CO-OP Food and Drink @ The Rivington Hotel, 107 Rivington