There are very few reasons for me to go to the Lower East Side or the East Village. I live in Washington Heights. Getting to Avenue A and 11th street is not a short or easy ride for me. But the trip is totally worth it, for Soothsayer. Soothsayer features contemporary Vietnamese cuisine, an extensive wine list, inventive cocktails, and beautiful decor.
We were seated at a beautifully set corner banquette table (my favorite place to sit). Our waitress then presented us with Crispy Spring Rolls – glass noodles wrapped around mushrooms and pork. They were served with a delicious fish dipping sauce, and each roll sat in a lettuce leaf, which contrasted wonderfully with the rich warmth of the rolls. We were then served an Heirloom Tomato Salad (because summertime!). The salad was dressed with a delicious spicy cucumber broth, and the addition of pineapples in the dish added a fantastic sweetness. But I quickly forgot about the salad when the next dish hit the table – Applewood Smoked Ribs. I LOVE ribs. (I’m a Texan. It’s in our DNA to love ribs and barbecue of any kind.) These particular ribs were liberally coated in a truly delicious caramel lemongrass sauce, living them a bright sweetness, and were served with charred corn on the cob (another of my and chef’s favorite summertime foods.)
After the appetizers, we were already getting pretty full, but when the Vegetable Clay Pot was placed in front of me, I quickly forgot that. Served with sticky jasmine rice and cooked in a mild yellow curry, the dish came with seasonal veggies, which in this case (among others) were bok choy, tofu, bean sprouts and celery. The flavors were easy and delicious. And then came the Steamed Cod. This was absolutely my favorite thing that I tried. It was perfectly cooked, falling apart when barely touched with a fork. It was served in a delicious, simply flavored ginger garlic broth. The perfect light main course for a sticky summer night.
Throughout the meal, I tasted my way through the cocktail list. The She’s So Fresh, featuring sake, kaffir lime and mint, was fantastic, bright and refreshing. The Tiger Mom, made with a Session beer, Madeira, and Chinese bitters (which I had never heard of) was dangerous is that it’s delicious, and absolutely crushable. I could drink four of those in one sitting and not realize that I’m drinking alcohol until it’s just too damn late. The Berry Movin’, with Cappelletti, blueberry, and black vinegar, is awesome and flavorful – the vinegar is an excellent and unexpected addition to the drink. The final cocktail I tasted is an amaro lover’s dream drink – the Barrel Envy. This drink is made with Cardomaro – a wine-based Italian digestif flavored with cardoon (a vegetable relative of the artichoke) – and is reminiscent of an amaro old fashioned. I loved it.
If you have a craving for Vietnamese, or delicious drinks, I highly recommend Soothsayer. For more pictures of my fantastic meal, follow me on Instagram @whitneygentile or use the hashtag #manhattandigest. And for more information on Soothsayer, check out their official site. Happy dining!