The farm to table phenomenon that made its way to the east coast a few years ago is still thriving in New York City and thankfully, a new restaurant in that theme has arrived in Hell’s Kitchen. On 42nd street, where also-ran chain restaurants have long cornered the market, Rustic Table is the refreshing “new kid on the block.”
This cozy café, located between 10th and 11th avenue offers an ample amount of all day selections without overwhelming its patrons. Breakfast selections include a homemade honey date granola, a farmers’ omelette with shredded mozzarella, mushroom, and ricotta, or a fisherman’s breakfast with smoked salmon, red onion, and sour cream. In addition, coffee beverages are also served, but owner Jordan Hadani is mindful about the restaurant’s food and beverage preparation. “When you come to our restaurant, you won’t find an extra-large sized cappuccino,” he said. “The reason is that, we feel that specific amounts contribute to the taste and quality of our food, so we don’t encourage substitutions or changes.”
Judging from the quality of the food, Hadani and his business partner, Guy Weizmann, know exactly what they’re doing in the kitchen-as proven by a recent dinner visit. The meal began with three iced tea selections, which is impressive for such a small scale operation. I chose the green tea. It was difficult to determine the quality, as one would have to be a complete idiot to mess up green tea, but nonetheless, it was refreshing and I appreciated the variety. Next, Hadani and his friendly staff brought the chef’s choice salad, a combination of roasted red peppers, chick peas, cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, mint leaves, and baby arugala. Usually, I find feta to be a dry, salt mine of brackishness, but the quality was exceptionally velvety and there was a lot of it. As a general lover of cheese, I had no complaints. The market salad was lightly dressed with a simple, but perfect lemon and extra virgin olive oil. Too often, restaurants drown their greens in a pool of dressing, leaving the ingredients to figuratively yell for rescue. Here, it was a flavorful coat, allowing room to taste each of the carefully crafted components. A homey bread basket with a Kalamata olive infused butter accompanied the vegetarian friendly offering.
Next came a warm, slow cooked brisket sandwich with charred tomatoes and arugula, topped with a hint of lemon aioli. Served on homemade Italian country bread, the sandwich was fresh, hearty, and incredibly tasteful. It was also paired with a small salad. One thing is certain: With all of the greens offered at Rustic Table, diners will be left with fresh oxygen pumping through their veins.
Hoping that the meal would end on an upbeat note, we were given a blackberry tartlet. The berries were ripe and sweet, the custard filling cool and creamy, but the crust was a bit on the dry side-suggesting that it had been sitting for a good portion of the day. Oh well. It can’t always be Tiffany diamonds.
Other offerings on the menu include bite size options of their quiche of the day, salmon bites, various small cheese plates, and their Nutella Classic, comprised of peanut butter and banana. Additional market salads and sandwiches are available as well.
Like any New York institution, space is a precious commodity and Rustic Table is by no means a cavernous dining establishment. With only one large table as a main resource, it is better suited to delivery. But they do have plans to add more tables and bar seats, especially with the prospect of a wine and beer menu which Hadani hopes to secure within the next month or two. In the meantime, it still provides a warm and inviting atmosphere to sit, unwind, and briefly grab a healthful bite before scurrying out to the weary world.
Hadani and Weizmann are no strangers to the restaurant world. “Both of us have worked in the New York City service industry for over a decade,” Hadani said. “The idea for Rustic Table came from a place of wanting to emulate the style and culture of food we have back home (Israel), but to do so without looking pretentious.” He continued, “The farm to table concept seemed the most suited as it emphasizes the idea of fresh produce and products. That is something to which we really adhere.”
The restaurant has been opened since May 2015. Thanks to the help of great yelp reviews and neighborhood support, it is doing quite well. Are more restaurants in the future? The friendly proprietor seems to think so. “More restaurants are definitely in our future,” said Hadani, “But we must focus on this idea and perfect it first.” At this rate, they are close to that goal.
Rustic Table is located at 504 West 42nd Street between 10th and 11th Avenue. They are open Monday-Friday from 7 AM-7PM, Saturday&Sunday from 8AM-7PM. Delivery is also available. Call (212) 244-0744