Dining

Holy Smokes

Even vegetables get the rotisserie treatment at Narcissa
Chef John Fraser saucing lamb saddle at Narcissa in the East Village
Narcissa The Standard East Village Lamb Saddle

The table at Narcissa is full of lowly ingredients, each cooked with so much care that they look beautiful, and taste luxurious.

Consider the risotto ($13), plain old barley treated as sweetly as arborio rice, infused with oregano, and jeweled with fat clams and a few golden slices of fried garlic. These are the flavors of Little Italy, a pile of spaghetti al vongole, elegant and focused.

John Fraser, who's been cooking for 20 years, has always had a way with vegetables--he introduced a vegetable tasting menu at his restaurant Dovetail years ago--but what's exciting about his new place in The Standard East Village hotel is the way that he's cooking them: low and slow, with rotisseries.


Bulky beets spin on a hot carousel for five hours, until they're dizzyingly sweet and thoroughly charred. And there are oysters ($16), but they're baked with a fine dice of cabbage under a blanket of breadcrumbs, like Rockefellers fallen on hard times--both the oysters and cabbage are the better for it.

The room is also unadorned, with Shaker-style chairs and wide tables that can actually accommodate many wine glasses and friends' elbows and plates of food. This is good for sharing roast chicken ($28) and hake ($22) and for passing around the roast potatoes ($7). Shining with a salty, savory glaze of chicken and beef drippings from the rotisserie, they quickly became the most prized dish on the table, despite the presence of a fine, blushing lamb saddle draped with piquillo peppers ($26).

The last little potato was in such high demand, it had to be cut in three.

  • Narcissa's cooks at work in the open kitchen.

  • Toasted fennel cheesecake; chef John Fraser of Narcissa.

  • Beets spin on the rotisserie for five hours.

  • Fraser's poached egg, served in the shell.

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Narcissa 25 Cooper Square New York NY 10003 212-228-3344

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