For the first time, I thought I could live in a restaurant. Vandaag is light and airy, clean lines, modern, the loudest details being subtle textures like wood slab ceilings and tiled walls. There are big windows looking out onto the East Village Streets. An old Lynyrd Skynyrd song plays. The servers wear cute printed aprons and converse. The restaurant has a clear focus: food from Denmark and Holland, genever (gin) and aqvavit. Not a bad focus.
I know nothing about Dutch food, but I do know I was in the mood for simple comfort food, whatever that may be. We tried a romaine salad with crumbled sausage, bitterballen (braised oxtail croquettes), and gravlax. They sent out an amuse bouche of hen pate, which was lovely, but made me feel like I was due to have a fancier meal than expected (or desired). The food is super creative and thoughtful. The owners come from Mayahuel, an expertly conceived tequila restaurant, so it’s no surprise they left no Dutch detail untouched. It’s a niche restaurant in fine form.
Will I return? Yes. I really want to try their Ham Burger, with gouda and charred onion, and maybe one of their beer cocktails. I might come with a group, as they have nice big booths to squeeze into, and the airiness of the restaurant is such a refreshing change to the usual table-upon-table setup of most New York restaurants. You almost feel like you left the city altogether.
Vandaag, 2nd Ave bet 6th and 7th Sts, East Village. For more information visit vandaagnyc.com