Imagine a farmhouse conveniently located at the foot of Macdougal Street, and you'll get a sense of Hundred Acres in Soho, a restaurant dedicated to creating simple yet impressive dishes with the freshest ingredients possible. Like sister restaurant Five Points, the appetizer menu at Hundred Acres is loaded with great values, considering the quality of the food.
When I stopped in last week with a couple of friends, we were looking to fill up on a few snacks. The restaurant's front room, which houses the bar, was mostly empty; we requested a table near the restaurant's large open windows, but were denied by the hostess and led instead to the high communal table next to the bar. Perhaps we wouldn't be eating entrees, but in an empty dining room at 6:00pm, would it really be the end of the world to let me eat my apps while taking in the scene on Macdougal?
But I digress. The rest of the evening, service at Hundred Acres was friendly and helpful, and when we sat down our waiter informed us that it was still happy hour. They don't stop at just offering a few bucks off drinks; Hundred Acres has one of the best happy hour food menus in town, with a dozen or so choices at just $6 a plate.
We started with a few of these, namely the Buttermilk Chicken Wings ($6), Aged Gruyere Cheese Fritters ($6) and Salt and Pepper Squid ($6). The wings came out first, about six pieces of tender, crispy skinned wings curiously absent of their drumettes—fine with me, as the flat part of the wing is my favorite. (Drumette lovers, beware.) The wings were doused in a spicy, slightly sweet sauce that didn't overpower the delicious flavor of the bird.
The Gruyere fritters also came in a pretty big portion. The $6 price tag on the happy hour food selections had me worried about possible stinginess; this was unwarranted. These fritters were a great value, and while they're not the most nutritious, they certainly were filling. Finally, the salt and pepper squid, which was perfectly fried in a crispy batter. I order fried squid almost every time I see it on a menu, and this was one of the best versions I've had in the city regardless of the price.
The happy hour snacks at Hundred Acres are reason enough for any Apps Only diner to stop in, from 5:00-7:00 pm, Monday-Friday.
Though three of us were already filling up after dropping only $18, we moved on to the dinner menu's appetizer section. This menu, too, is full of great values. We started with a dish of Steamed Littleneck Clams ($12, pictured at top), fresh clams steamed and served with their cooking broth. Usually the broth is my favorite, and I have horrified more than one dining companion by drinking leftover broth at the table before. Here, however, it was far too salty. That said, the clams themselves were delicious and came served with a nice chunk of garlic bread so you can enjoy the broth more, er, politely.
Next up was a Dandelion Salad ($9), again a heaping portion. The greens were fresh and tossed in a lemon anchovy dressing with toasted breadcrumbs that seemed to be laced with garlic. It all made for a delicious salad that matched the glorious spring weather outside.
Dandelion greens made an encore appearance in one of the day's special appetizers, the questionable Bass Ceviche ($8). Our waiter described the dish as a "seared ceviche." Isn't a piece of ceviche seared just... a fish filet? Taxonomy aside, the dish was great: a lightly cooked filet of bass in a lemon juice and olive oil sauce, dotted with pistachios and raisins, sitting on top of some lightly cooked greens. This dish, like the salad, reflected the season beautifully and each ingredient tasted totally fresh.
Though our meal got off to a slightly rocky start, Hundred Acres may have been the best value I've had since we started subjecting restaurants to the Apps Only test. The happy hour menu certainly helped, but even the regular apps menu at Hundred Acres is full of great values. We ended up spending the target amount, $15 per person before tax and tip ($45 total, for three of us), but we could have spent far less and still left satisfied. As it was, we left completely stuffed.
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