When a new restaurant opens in your neighborhood, it’s always fun to visit for the first time — to take in the ambiance and setting, scan the totally unfamiliar menu, and try a dish that might, if things go right, become a special favorite.
Last night Kish and I went to the South Village Grille, which has been open for about a month. It’s on Thurman, in the spot formerly occupied by Easy Street, which was a favorite of ours. But where Easy Street was a classic neighborhood joint and good brunch and burger place, the South Village Grille has a different aim: according to the hostess and our waiter, it’s looking to recreate a kind of New York bistro setting, with food (and cocktails) made from scratch. The interior is open and airy — a far cry from the Easy Street days, when just about every inch of wall space was cluttered with things like Frank Sinatra’s mug shot — with cool light fixtures. And large mirrors on the walls. I’m not sure exactly what New York bistros are supposed to look like, but this design was both intimate and visually appealing.
More important, the food was appealing — in fact, it was terrific. Kish and I started by splitting six enormous raw Chesapeake Bay oysters, topped with a tasty Thai vinaigrette sauce of the chef’s devising, and then I went for the hanger steak and fries and Kish had a wedge salad and the short rib. My steak was great — cooked just right to medium rare — and Kish’s short rib was moist and tender. She raved about her wedge salad, too.
We closed things off with strawberry shortcake (it is summer, after all) that featured a crisp shortcake biscuit, ice cream, a kind of creme fraiche sauce, and spicy, seasoned strawberries. I can attest that it tasted as good as it looks.
I’m pretty sure we’ll be adding the South Village Grille to our list of dine-around favorites.