Tuesday, September 9, 2014


photo credit: Thomas Schauer
Wallflower wants to be your friend.  But contrary to the mousey loner that can't find a dance partner, the Wallflower has everything going for it.  From the moment you are warmly welcomed by the attentive staff to some notably fine grub, this West Village newcomer has no reason to be shy.

The restaurant is so named as to welcome wallflowers, shrinking violets, pansies, and any other floral alike.  All welcome, so to speak.  Thus, on the night I visited, the tables were attended by an audaciously Harajuku-styled couple, an awkward, fidgety pair on a first date and a table of jovial neighborhooders well into their golden years.  I can't imagine a prototype that would clash in these environs.

The cocktail menu introduces the restaurant's concept well.  The drinks are complex and novel, with quirky names, and not one of which I didn't want to meet.  The food is similarly appealing and seasonal:  the menu is relatively succinct and somewhat bereft of vegetation: there are no side dishes on hand, nor was a request for additional veg accommodated.  But that was really the only snag, and easily overlooked as the evening progressed.
Corn, truffle, cherry tomatoes

Wallflowers apparently have an affinity for crudo and charcuterie, categories that are so popular these days.  You could easily make a meal from those options alone, but my preferences lie elsewhere.  Thus, I began with the Market Salad, which had way too much dressing for its not-enough greens, which were riddled with charred pole beans, tart red currant and thin planks of pecorino.  Had they added twice greenery, the problem would've resolved itself, as well as bulked up the skimpy salad.  It was tasty enough despite its meagerness, but the dressing overpowered.   Chilled corn soup, on the other hand, had nary a flaw, a mellifluous golden pabulum infused with summer truffle, halved cherry tomatoes and fresh kernels lurking within.
Market Salad

Scallops, maitake, corn, purslane

Continuing on a corn-and-mushroom  rampage ('tis the season, after all), four bronzed sea scallops huddled in a bed of corn featured big brushes of ruffly maitake mushroom- a dish I would easily return for (I even considered doing so the very next night).  The maitakes had a meaty woodsiness, the corn sweet and crisp, a combination as intoxicating as the summer sun filtering through fragrant forest pines.  A pork
Pork, turnips, mustard, cherries
 entree arrived startlingly rare, but it was a full-flavored cut, a tender and juicy as it was pink.  The umami-rich jus was perked up with luscious, garnet cherries and mustard, creating a thickly sweet counter for wedges of pleasantly bitter turnips, simply steamed to tenderness.

Brioche, peaches, vanilla gelato
Desserts options consist of just three, and all had a subtle breakfasty quality that was cozily appealing.  There was a coffee pot de creme and yogurt panna cotta, but we chose the brioche with roasted peaches and vanilla ice cream.  It was a perfect example of why I hate brunch, but precisely why French toast should be relegated strictly to dessert.  This divinely buttery little toast boasted sugar-crisped edges up against a perhaps scanty quantity of peaches, which didn't taste so much roasted as just peeled, but they were a fruity, fresh contrast to the luxurious brioche, and well-lubricated by a dairy-fresh milky ice cream scooped on top.  It was decorated with tiny little violet flowers, as precious as the restaurant itself.  As was mostly everything at Wallflower, a restaurant you will definitely want to mark onto your dance card.

235 West 12th Street
No phone

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