Slideshow: First Look: Chez Sardine, Gabriel Stulman's Latest West Village Restaurant

Miso-maple salmon head ($15)
Miso-maple salmon head ($15)
A head on a plate! Totally captures Mehdi Brunet-Benkritly's style: serious chef, huge sense of humor. "I love nose-to-tail cooking," he said, "but I guess this is more fin-to-tail."

"We were smoking whole salmon at Fedora, so of course we get the fish head and all." A very loose take on the ubiquitous miso black cod, it's marinated in maple syrup, miso, and lemon zest. This guy takes some work, but there's a good bit of meat in there, between the collar and the cheeks.

"You really gotta dig around. So we serve this guy with a wet nap."

Inside
Inside
Clean, spartan, cozy.
Caviar and butter toast ($21)
Caviar and butter toast ($21)
"When I eat caviar," says Brunet-Benkritly, "I feel like I should be eating a lot of it. Not just four eggs on top of an oyster." So here's a true mouthful of it, on top of thickly buttered toast, the bread from Sullivan Street. "I like Grinnel caviar—the flavor is bright and lemony, not at all muddy or bitter. We're not using Ostera, we don't want to be charging $100 for this.

"The person who orders it, they should remember that they had caviar on Friday night."

Iceberg wedge ($9)
Iceberg wedge ($9)
"I'm not an American chef, and not a big steakhouse guy, I don't really think I'd really had an iceberg wedge until Gabe [restaurateur Stulman] wanted one on the Fedora menu." Hardly Japanese, but there's a sesame-laced dressing ("sweet and tangy"), and Brunet-Benkritly sees some Asian tie-in: "In Korean restaurants where they bring out banchan before the meal, sometimes there are cabbage leaves in a sesame dressing." Scallions and fried croutons finish it off.
Chopped beef with sea urchin ($8)
Chopped beef with sea urchin ($8)
What's more indulgent than uni? Uni atop, what's essentially steak tartare on the bottom.
Midnight in Her Eyes ($14)
Midnight in Her Eyes ($14)
A play on a Manhattan, with Rittenhouse rye, amaro Montenegro, fresh lemon, and Bartels's cherry hazelnut bitters. "It's sort of a ripoff of a Dave Wondrich cocktail, the Reanimator, half amaro and half rye."