It was King Ralphy and Demanda date night earlier this month (don’t ask, we don’t kiss and tell) and we decided to check out local Hell’s Kitchen eatery 9Restaurant. Being that our usual evening rendezvous’ usually occur in a nightclub, I was excited to actually share a meal and a laugh (and cocktails too, of course, but I thought that went without saying!) Joining us was his childhood friend Kathy. Allow me to share a bit about our lovely little evening with 9 reasons why this place should be a stop before your nightly bar crawl.
1. The location
Nestled on the corner of 53rd and 9th, 9Restaurant is in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen. The outside wall has painted graffiti, a motif continuing on inside. It’s literally down the blocks from some of my favorite dark shady corners (Vlada, Bar-Tini, a stoop on 51st and 11th), so I was already planning the places to go afterwards.
2. The space
9Restaurant feels hip without the pretension. It’s casual but inviting, and the glow from the fireplaces made for a cozy environment. The back lit bar gave me a smile as I saw all my closest friends nearby, sharing in the experience. A little birdy told me the owner built the restaurant to serve as his hangout spot. Aha, thus why it feels so warm. Silly Demanda.
3. The hostess
Our threesome was greeted by hostess Caitlin Hettinger, a vivacious blonde sweetheart who’s enthusiasm was appreciated and put me in the mood to
drink eat. She gave us a tour of the artwork displayed around the restaurant and seated us at a table near the back. Recommending several dishes on the menu, it was impossible to choose, so Caitlin happily made our selection for us. The staff made sure we were well taken care of and never let me be without a sip of wine. Apparently they know me in these parts… Instead of bread, a basket of pretzels with butter spread was placed on our table. Pretzel is one of those wonderful six letter words. Butter is too.
4. The appetizers
We decided to sample several appetizers and though I normally stick to my cocktails, I couldn’t help but dive into this food like a dinosaur and gobble it all up. I was no lady at this meal, no sir-ee. Although the lighter options were good (tuna tartare, arugula salad), it was the meat appetizers that truly stood out. The Lobster Hot Dogs, pigs in a blanket style, couldn’t have been more scumpitous, as well as the Buffalo chicken dumplings, like a delectable pot sticker lollipop, with a generous drizzle of delicious spicy sauce. The real winner was the Brisket Sliders, with a slice of cheddar and some thick smoked bacon. Bacon makes every boo boo better. I let open a button on my belt and prepared myself.
5. The entrees
We wanted to try the best of both worlds, so Caitlin once again made a splendid suggestion. The braised short ribs glared up at me from their plate, on top of a pile of creamy mashed potatoes and surrounded by a small garden of vegetables. The aroma of good food filed my nostrils and threatened to melt the white off my face. Eating with your eyes is important, but with your mouth is better. The short ribs melted in our mouths, and the mashed potatoes reminded me of what real ones should taste like, since I’m more accustomed to those that come from a box. Equally as delicious was the cod sitting on the other plate. Topped with mushrooms and accompanied by baby bok choy, it was light, refreshing and actually what I would consider ordering before a night out. No, I don’t really need carbs; they just soak up the liquorhol!
6. The cocktails
What evening would be complete without cocktails? I mean, who doesn’t love anything that combines “cock” and “tails”, right dahling? Although I was guzzling wine faster than they could stomp the grapes, I took a break to sample several of their martinis (by sample, I mean drink and by several, I mean most). They have 7 house cocktails, all named after one of the 7 deadly sins. Breaking from my normal favorite sins (I have 7 deadlier ones, mind you), I had 4. Yes, it was beginning to become one of those evenings. I’ve been on a “p” kick lately (minds outta the gutters, boys), so I had Lust (pear vodka, lychee and passion fruit) and Sloth (rosemary infused vodka, peach, champagne) and those immediately went to my head. Tipsy at this point, I was feeling Rage (tequila, orange juice, passion fruit, triple sec). I’d be happy with any of these choices, but my personal preference was some good ole fashioned Envy (vodka, cucumber, St. Germain). I liked my cocktails to be refreshing (most of the time) and the cucumber really hit the spot. It would be the perfect summer day drink for a thing like myself. (You must try it, and please invite me along when you do!)
7. The private dining room
Stumbling around with my Envy was growing less and less cute, so Caitlin took us downstairs to see the private dining room. Tucked in the middle of the kitchen, the room holds about 20 people and would be the perfect spot for a private party. Lit by candlelight with a state of the art sound system (all music to my ears), Ralphy and myself already envisioned our friends hanging in a space like this. Whether for cocktails or dinner, the lounge is intimate and lovely. It did not, however, provide enough rolling space for a typical Demanda night. Perhaps we reserve that for clubs, bars and sidewalks only?
8. The future
9Restaurant is quickly becoming a spot for those in the neighborhood. Being so close to the Theatre District, it does get a decent amount of tourist traffic. Of those tourists, they have given positive reviews on food websites, touting it as the “perfect after-theater find”. They’ve talked of hosting theme parties on random nights and Caitlin, still enthusiastic, mentioned their late nights hours. “We want to stay open later,” she told me, “because it’s a perfect alternative to a crazy night. Stop in when you’re not feeling a big club. Have a cocktail, an appetizer and a chill evening.” Being the location is so central to many of the usual Hell’s Kitchen stops, she makes a very good point.
9. Because I said so!
Listen, I smoke so much that I barely have a palette anymore. So if I’m going to recommend a place to EAT, it must be good, no? Well fine then, don’t just take my word for it. Try it yourself, sugar.
So, a fantastic evening! I said goodbye to my Ralphy and his friend and stumbled along my merry way. I don’t quite remember the rest of the night (don’t judge me), but I woke up the next day with a backache that lasted for weeks. But one thing I can and will say, at least I didn’t forget the fabulous dinner!
Until we meet again…
liquor and love,
800 9th Avenue @ 53rd Street
Lunch: M – F, 11a – 4p / Brunch: Sat and Sun, 10a – 4p / Dinner: 5p – 12a