Wednesday, June 22, 2016
There are a handful of days in New York city where, weather-wise, al fresco dining is even marginally attractive, and even fewer venues conducive to those days. But then we find a place like Gilligan's, abutting the Soho Grand Hotel. Frondy ferns and wooden fences protect from noisy traffic, gritty gusts of wind, slobbering foreign dogs and noxious fumes from exhaust pipes and sidewalk nicotine-fiends. Wide canvas umbrellas stretch above providing shade and that carefree, vacation resort feel, and string lights that make any venue feel festive. It's actually quite transporting- might even feel a bit like that uncharted desert island.
The attractive staff is chipper and attentive, clad in nautical stripes and red canvas sneakers, all of which Gilligan himself would approve. The menu is pretty brief: it's more snacks and drinking nibbles, but you could easily fashion a legitimate meal out of the offerings as well. And a tasty meal it can be.
If you make it there while summer is still in full swing, don't miss the frozen watermelon margarita. It'll definitely bring out the kid in you, for both it's juicy, fruity flavor and a tequila punch that could leave you acting like a third grader on summer break (nothing wrong with this). They have almost as many cocktail options as menu items, and a short, but very sunshine-friendly wine list, plus organic juices.
For food, we just tried a couple of simple plates, but if I came back for a proper dinner I would head straight for the roasted prawns and the whole branzino. They're not trying to do anything too fancy here: simple is best if you were stuck on a remote tropical island, and so reiterates Gilligan's philosophy. We did enjoy some lovely little roasted beets, tumbled with nicely bitey arugula and a smear of very garlicky, salty horseradish creme fraiche. In fact, saltiness seems to be a recurring theme, and garlic features prominently as well. Tuna crudo is milder, swathed in a smooth avocado puree and a flurry of cilantro. They spike it with just a couple of rings of chili which give the avocado even more purpose. The pizza we tried, of
which there are three revolving seasonal flavors, brought back the salt and garlic theme in full force, plus an additional punch of cheesiness from parmesan and ricotta. Actually more of a flatbread than a pizza, the crust was still pliable with a nice chew, if little char, and long ribbons of translucent summer squash subbing in for sauce. It definitely encourages a glass of wine, of which I might recommend the California Chardonnary ($16) or even a nice glass of Prosecco ($14).
There are no desserts on hand at Gilligan's (must be continuing the theme of desert-island hardship), so if you didn't take advantage of the slushy watermelon margarita pre-prandially, here's your chance. I would love to see Odd Fellows swoop into fill that void, because this place has everything else going for it for this time of year.... still waiting on word of what happens once summer draws to a close and they find their way off that island.
310 West Broadway (keep walking south past the entrance of the SoHo Grand Hotel)
Posted by webdebnyc at 3:35 PM