Big Apple restaurants seeking to comply with the coronavirus lockdown are ripping up their menus and slashing prices — in some cases to survive.
The statewide ban on sit-down dining has forced some New York City eateries to throw in the towel, as Side Dish has previously reported. But other eateries are keeping the lights on by changing what they sell and how they sell it.
Take The Beatrice Inn in Manhattan’s posh West Village. The restaurant, known for its sky-high prices, including $375 for a 90-day dry aged porterhouse, is offering a slimmed-down to-go menu for a fraction of the former cost.
Instead of charging $38 for a 45-day dry aged burger, the coronavirus takeout menu version costs $17. And rather than fork over $135 for the roast duck flambé, patrons can now pay just $35 for half of a roast duck.
The new menu, created by chef and owner Angie Mar, also features $10 truffle fries, a $12 black kale salad and $16 fried chicken — as well as a “nightly meal for two” that changes daily and feeds three to four people for $45. On Friday, for example, the nightly meal consisted of meat pie with “bone marrow & beef suet crust,” and a salad of hearts of romaine and bitter greens.
In order to make the takeout menu work, Mar, who slashed 95 percent of her staff, has been in the kitchen every day cooking, taking orders and even washing dishes, she said. “Cooking is all I know, it is what I turn to in good and bad times,” she told Side Dish.
“People want to feel a sense of normalcy and of community right now so I’m offering food that is comforting,” even if it means losing money, she said.
Over in Brooklyn Heights, chef Danny Brown’s Estuary restaurant is also offering a more limited — and sometimes cheaper — takeout menu through his Ebb & Flow eatery.
The Estuary Burger — made with Niman Ranch beef, smoked gouda and fries — costs $16, down from $20. And the roasted chicken with roasted potatoes and broccoli rabe is $19 from $28.
Like Mar’s restaurant, Estuary also is offering a “family-style meal kit” for $60 that feeds four — or $80 with a bottle of red wine. The kit requires some assembly, however, as it comes with dry spaghetti to be cooked at home and added to the prepared meatballs with tomato sauce, garlic bread and mixed greens salad.
Other eateries are spiffing up their coronavirus menus with alcoholic beverages — thanks to temporary new rules letting eateries sell booze on the go.
Dante, a restaurant and bar just south of Washington Square Park, is serving a selection of single-serve cocktails in to-go coffee cups for $10 a pop — or $25 for two and a half servings sold in what look like glass soda bottles. In some cases, the drinks cost less than before, including the gin & tonic, which previously sold for $16, and the Old Fashioned, which is listed on the sit-down menu for $17 for a single serving.
Drinks like martinis, served in glass bottles, are “perfectly ready to serve,” said Linden Pride, Dante’s co-owner, adding that they are perfectly chilled and don’t need ice. Beverages with fizz, like an Aperol Spritz, served in a coffee cup, should be consumed that day so they don’t go flat.
Dante also offers food to go, like wild boar pappardelle for $17 and a cheese and cracker platter for $12. Some food items on the coronavirus menu that were recently listed for more money than before, like the Marcona almonds for $8 instead of $6, are the result of production glitches, said Pride, who promised that adjustments would be made.
Last week, Dante laid off 45 employees, but, “now we have 10 people back working for us,” Pride said. “It’s awesome. People walking to the grocery store are stopping by to pick up some cocktails and a cheese board before they cook dinner. We bag up the orders and send it to a pickup window. Your name is called out, and you pick it up. It is contactless in every way.”
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