The early coverage of Mulberry Project, a speakeasy-style bar in Little Italy that opened in frigid January by Matty Gee (formerly Milk & Honey and Boom Boom Room), revolved around the unique cocktails, mixed on the fly in a collaboration between imbiber and bartender. Now that the weather is warmer, Mulberry's cozy back patio has become one of the best places in the city for an early evening drink and bite, when the atmosphere is noticeably more relaxed and subdued.
The menu, created by Michael Camplin (formerly of Boqueria), features shareable plates such as the Crispy Pork Belly ($10), delicately sitting on a dehydrated apple chip with apple jam and a cider reduction—all the salty-sweet greatness of autumn... in spring.
Crispy Baby Artichokes ($12), served with grilled scallions, have a noticeably delicate texture. These finger-food delights are dunked into a red almond-romesco sauce that is much tamer than it looks.
Seafood lovers should not miss out on the Braised Octopus ($14), served atop confit potato with balsamic-poached shallots and chili oil. The wonderful char on the tentacle enhances just how perfectly the octopus was cooked.
The fresh-fruit libations may be dessert enough at Mulberry Project, but if one is needed, go for the Bread & Butter Pudding with candied orange ($7). Soft but not soggy, the creamy vanilla in the pudding pairs extremely well with a mandarin orange cocktail.
It's only fair to note that the cocktails run an eye-popping $14. Our advice: start the evening here while you can still appreciate them, then end the night somewhere much, much cheaper.