Several date nights ago, my boyfriend and I joined another couple at Freeman’s on the Lower East Side. After trying and failing to go for brunch several times, a late weeknight dinner was a considerably safer choice. Once again, New York restaurants, I know that by taking reservations you are practically lowering yourself down to Olive Garden status (nothin’ against Olive Garden. Mama loves some unlimited salad and breadstix), but could you please do me the courtesy of offering in-restaurant entertainment while I wait? Perhaps a large projector rotating Seinfeld episodes, or a room full of pinball machines, or at the very least, a shot or two and the courtesy to call me when my table is ready and let me partake in other activities in the meantime (a sidenote: Essex, also on the LES, texts you when you are next in line for a table, letting you do fun things like play in the Essex Street Market and purchase street sunglasses while awaiting mimosas. Other restaurants should follow suit).
Our wait for a table was a pleasant 30-45 minutes, which would have been excellent had it not been raining. The adorable alley Freeman’s is hidden in, which usually looks like this:
[Adorable alley on pleasant afternoon. Awwwwwuh. Photo via Elle Decor]
…instead looked like this:
[Terrifying and wet alley in which hungry hipsters lurk, waiting for the kill]
We moved our wait to the crowded bar area and I enjoyed a Saw Mill (rye, pear liqueur, lime juice, maple syrup), while my party, for various reasons including colds, work obligations, and not being a lush didn’t drink. After a little while we were led to our 4-top.
A few things about Freeman’s–despite the reservation policy (seriously, you guys, can we all just unite in protest and force all restaurants to accept reservations? Online? All I want to do is be able to wear nice shoes to dinner without fear of having to stand/walk around for hours before-hand while snacking on the Luna bars I stash in my purse)–this is the kind of place that you want to take your non-New-York-dwelling friends to in order to make them wish they dwelled in New York. It’s hidden, but easy to find. The decor is interesting and different, but not pretentious. The servers do push it a little bit by wearing matching plaid button-downs and Oliver Peoples wide-rim glasses (not to mention, by being completely uninterested in serving you because they are far too busy being attractive and not caring), but overall the service is fine, the venue is awesome, and the food is priced well and delicious. There’s also a back bar area in which I assume one could hang out and be attractive and not care for several hours after their meal.
[Cool hunting-lodge feel. Hey PETA, Flour-Bomb this! (I despite Kim Kardashian but I despite PETA more). What I don’t despise is eccentric-awesome decor, and the occasional taxidermy (animal lovers, sue me. I have not one but two sets of antlers in my 600 square foot apartment.) Photo via Eats.com]
Our menu (a note to vegetarians: in case the above photo didn’t clue you in, most everything on the menu is meat. Large slabs and chunks of meat. When I was a vegetarian (how I pity myself, the fool), I would not have enjoyed this menu at all. Now that I adore eating all parts of animals, it was great):
[Grilled cheddar toasts: A hearty appetizer that left us wanting more]
[Olive-oil poached tuna with white beans, radicchio, lemon vinaigrette and house-made hot sauce. This appetizer was also yummy, but a bit on the light side for a rather hungry party of four. We were told afterwards that what we should have ordered was the homemade artichoke dip. Next time, Freeman’s, next time]
[The boy’s meal: Sautéed venison cutlets with roasted cauliflower and pistachio salsa verde. From the small bite he let me have, this was juicy, light, and grilled to perfection]
[My entreé: Oven roasted Arctic char with white bean purée, sautéed mustard greens and beet & carrot chow-chow. Sadly, my meal was the least favorite of group’s, but, as the boy correctly pointed out, this always happens to me when I insist on trying to order healthily instead of just getting what my heart desires (the Filet Mignon and Five Cheese Macaroni). Somehow, I never learn and continue to order salads while he feasts on, and begrudgingly allows me to sample, massive slabs of meat. I’m trying to get better. The white bean purée and veggies that came with this rather bland fish were absolutely delicious]
[Dessert/my entreé’s savior: Chocolate brownie, vanilla ice cream. One can never go wrong with chocolate brownie, vanilla ice cream. Ever]
I’d love to return to Freeman’s for the ambiance factor alone, and next time I think I’ll be sampling it for brunch. I’ve heard the menu is better and waits are considerably more pleasant in the sunshine.