When you dine in New York City, not only can you choose from almost any cuisine in the world, you can find some you never knew existed.
RedFarm is one of those unique restaurants with inventive, hard to characterize cuisine. Elements of the menu are Chinese, Korean and Japanese. It’s part dim sum and part sushi—and part farm-to-table. Yet the dishes are prepared and presented with such creativity that the cuisine seems to have a soul of its own.
At RedFarm at 2170 Broadway, the long communal table at the center of the main dining room creates an instant air of informality. The chairs are intentionally mismatched.
The room: Right-sized with a casual vibe, made for conversation and people watching. You feel as if you have entered a Great Room at someone’s country home, and are eating with the guests who spilled out of the dining room. The long wire baskets—suspended from the ceiling above the long table—are filled with chopsticks and paper menus.
Banquette seating flanks both sides of the room; the booths are pushed up against brick walls that are painted white. The seat cushions are upholstered in a bold red and white check print, complementing the contemporary light woods around them.
A bar with red metal stools is at the rear of the restaurant. During the busy lunch hour, diners are seated there as singles and in twosomes.
This is the second iteration of the restaurant that has been a smash hit since it first opened in the West Village two years ago. That place, too, takes no reservations and always has long waits for tables.
When I later showed my son our photos of the new RedFarm at 2170 Broadway, he said it looked identical to its downtown twin.
At RedFarm the wait staff are as welcoming and unpretentious as the décor.
“Have you been here before?” asks our server, Jorge, when he sees our eyes glaze over after receiving the menu.
We say we’re first-timers and he explains the menu is divided into three sections: Starters & Salads, Dim Sum, and Main Courses. He tells us which dishes are large, which are small and what are most popular. We ask a few questions and are impressed with his knowledge of food and beverages.
The number and attentiveness of the waiters is notable. They are predominantly garbed in jeans and t-shirts that look like they’ve been laundered multiple times in hot water. One of our waitresses was wearing a vintage tee with a Fruit Loops logo on the front. The only way to distinguish waiters from West Side patrons is that the former have dishtowels hanging out of their rear pants pockets.
Someone is always around to take an empty plate away or refill a drink. They work as a seamless team.
Our meal is delicious, made lovingly with fresh, and mostly healthful ingredients, all infused with a hefty portion of whimsy.
The Diced Tuna with Crispy Noodles is a standout. An ample portion of cubed raw is layered with jicama, cucumber, fava beans, blueberries and topped with salmon roe.
Katz’s Pastrami Egg Roll is decadent. The warm pastrami in crispy fried egg roll dough is accompanied by a honey mustard dip.
From the Dim Sum menu, we try the four-color Pac-Man dumplings that look too photogenic to eat. The four steamed dumplings are accompanied by a tempura sweet potato standing erect at the end of the plate.
Finally, we share pork and shrimp dumplings on skewers, also delicious.
The bottom line
Ed Schoenfeld, operating partner with chef partner Joe Ng comes over to our table to make sure we are pleased with our experience.
“I’m here every day,” he says.
Maybe why the operation runs so smoothly, we think.
“We served 1100 lunches during our first week without advertising,” he says.
Not the best news. Now we’re sure there’ll be lines out the door here, too, in short order.
Our meal for two with drinks and tip totals about $89, expensive for sure but not for an exceptional, heavily seafood-laden meal in New York City that made us smile multiple times. Our major frustration is that we feel too full to try more items from the tempting menu (or order dessert) but we’ll be sure to remedy that soon.
IF YOU GO
2170 Broadway, New York City (Upper West Side)
212 724-9700; open daily for brunch and lunch to start
This post is part of a blog parade on Food and Travel on Travel World Online and a link up on Marcia Maynes’ Inside Journeys.