Editor's note: In "Apps Only," Ben Fishner will be eating his way through New York's appetizer, bar, and lounge menus as your guide to fine dining on a budget. He blogs at Ben Cooks Everything.


Pickled ginger scallops with candied red chili sauce from Graffiti. [Photos: Ben Fishner]

Graffiti is a wine bar in the East Village that also serves Indian-Asian fusion dishes. But don't think it's nothing more than a wine bar; here, you'll find some of the most inventive dishes in the neighborhood.

The tables at this slot of a wine bar are all communal and none of them seats more than about six people, so it can get a bit crowded (they do take reservations). But grab a stool or a chair and you'll be confronted with a truly unique menu, divided up by dollar amount: sevens, twelves, and fifteens (plus a few more sevens for desert).


Green mango paneer.

We started with the Green Mango Paneer ($7), cubes of fresh cheese (with a texture that's somewhere between mozzarella and firm tofu) coated in a warming, fenugreek-scented curry--not too hot, but with a noticeable kick.

Next, we enjoyed a couple of twelves. The Pickled Ginger Scallops ($12) came sliced and fanned beneath dehydrated mung beans, which added a nice crunch as well as an earthy flavor to the mild, tender scallops. A candied red chili sauce added a bit of sweetness and spice, while more bread rounded out the dish. I would have liked more pickled ginger flavor, but it was hard to complain about such a luscious, interesting plate of food.


Somewhere beneath these crispy chickpea flour threads sit pork dumplings with grapefruit confit.

The Chili Pork Dumplings ($12) were unrecognizable when set before us, buried as they were beneath crunchy threads of fried chickpea batter. Once fished out from the chickpea crisps, the dumplings were tender, thick-skinned numbers that were coated with a bit of grapefruit confit, the physics of which I don't understand. All that matters is how good it tastes—the unexpected combination of chickpea flour, dumpling, and sweet citrus combining to create a truly original dish.

Graffiti is not cheap, and when it fills up at peak hours it can be a bit of a pain trying to jostle around its tightly packed dining room. But if you can brave the cramped quarters you'll be rewarded with some seriously adventurous plates--I'd bring a few friends so you can sample a bit more widely than I did. Our dinner came to $31 with tax and tip for two of us, just over $15/head.* It was a light one, but completely worth it.


Warm truffle almond strawberries with black pepper ice cream.

*Though it doesn't fall under the Apps Only rubric, we couldn't resist the Warm Truffle Almond Strawberries with Black Pepper Ice Cream ($7). I'd encourage you not to resist them either.

Graffiti Food and Wine Bar

224 East 10th Street, New York NY 10003 (map)

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