Last year I was invited to join a very small, selective club. Its members, all three of them, are smart, sophisticated, worldly people who bonded over a common, if sheepish, love for the spinach and artichoke dip at Houston’s. From there, all of them realized they sorta kinda loved CPK and maybe even Red Lobster (if just for the biscuits). So as often as possible, when these club members weren’t jetting around, hosting parties, attending fashion shows, and being generally glamorous, they met up for a good old fashioned suburban meal. Thus, the Suburban Fare Club was born. Perhaps these people sensed that regardless of my taste for truffles and tasting menus and a nice Brunello, I too appreciate restaurants that belong in malls. In college, I thought Cheesecake Factory was the nicest restaurant in town, followed closely by Vinny Testa’s. My palate has changed a bit since then, and so have my surroundings. But every now and then, digging into some suburban fare is a soothing experience, a way to check myself and remember what food is like on the other side of the restaurant scale.
Last week, Suburban Fare felt like branching out and finding a local restaurant that cooked up some good American cookery without the generic environs. After much debate, we decided on Bubby’s in Tribeca. It was perfect, as we dined on hush puppies, mac and cheese, biscuits, fried chicken, veggie burgers, turkey burgers, fries, and lots and lots of pie.
Bubby’s reminded me of another comforting meal I had recently at The Redhead, a newish spot in the East Village that began as a bar and morphed into a casual restaurant. First of all, it’s the friendliest place I’ve ever been. The waiters/hosts/owners treat you as if you’re dining in their home (and they feel bad about charging you). The fried chicken was excellent and came with a yummy salad and cornbread, the beet salad was lovely, they serve Dale’s Pale Ale in a can, and homemade ho-ho’s for dessert.
Bubby’s: there are two locations, the original in Tribeca at 120 Hudson St and a Brooklyn outpost in Dumbo. Get more info on their website.