Apps Only »

Seeking out the best bites for under $15 a head.

Apps Only: Cookshop

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.

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Cookshop's pizza with house cured lardo, mustard greens, pecorino, mozzarella and farm eggs. [Photos: Ben Fishner]

Cookshop is a casual West Chelsea restaurant that, like sister restaurants Five Points and Hundred Acres, serves a Greenmarket-based menu stacked with appealing snacks and small plates. But is it possible to eat there on the cheap? I stopped by last week to see what a meal of appetizers would look like at Cookshop.

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Cookshop's bread plate.

Like Mesa Grill last week, Cookshop has a standout bread bowl where crispiness rules: crusty slices of whole grain bread, a crispy roll, and a handful of olive oil-laden breadsticks come along with an onion-horseradish spread to tide over starving diners. Certainly a good sign of things to come.

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Deviled eggs.

We started with a dish from the snacks menu, which contains five items each priced at five dollars: Deviled Eggs ($5). The eggs were rich and smoky, with a luscious, buttery filling, topped with a generous sprinkling of pimenton and a small anchovy fillet. While these didn't disappoint, and they were worth the five bucks we spent on each of them, they paled in comparison to the dishes to come.

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Seared Montauk squid.

Next was the Seared Montauk Squid ($9) with pickled padron peppers, green onions, double-fried golden potatoes, harissa aioli, and parsley leaves. Somehow what looked like a laundry list of components on the menu came together to form a seriously delicious plate of food, albeit a small one. The mild aioli and spicy pickled padron peppers played beautifully off of one another, while the squid was tender without being undercooked.

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Pumpkin chanterelle cornbread pudding.

The best value of the night was Cookshop's Lardo Pizza ($13). The lardo is house-cured, and the pizza also comes topped with mozzarella, pecorino, mustard greens and not one but two eggs. Mustard greens do little to fool you that this pizza is anything but a well-pedigreed gut bomb, but it's worth it. This dish alone could make a light dinner for two, and a pretty substantial meal for one. Rounding out our meal was another rich plate from the sides menu: Pumpkin Chanterelle Cornbread Pudding ($6) reminded me of cornbread stuffing. Really, really good stuffing. Covered in a gravy scented with the chanterelles, it was an unexpected standout.

Like sister restaurant Five Points, Cookshop excels at being casual without being too casual, a fine dining restaurant that's a little fancy but never snooty. The service was friendly, the food was reasonably priced, and everything was absolutely delicious. We spent $33 before tax and tip between the two of us, just over the $15/person target price, but could have stayed well under it and still left satisfied.

Cookshop

156 10th Avenue, New York NY 10011 (map)
212-924-4440
cookshopny.com

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