First Look: The Red Hen
stephanie | Apr 16, 2013 | 10:30AM |

All words: Stephanie Breijo
All photos: Jen Cubas

Bloomingdale’s renaissance–marked by the openings and discoveries of some of our favorite spots to grab a bite–is getting yet another restaurant we know will fast become a must-try for everyone in the city. The best news? The Red Hen opens today with Italian-American cuisine that features, surprisingly, many items incorporating its wood-fired grill. Of course you’ll be able to taste the oven-grilled tender smoked meats and vegetables, though you may also detect a smokiness in their gelato, whose vanilla beans are roasted whole. The ricotta is slow-roasted as well, adding a smoky layer to the cheese sprinkled throughout its seasonal menu but don’t worry; if you’re not feeling adventurous (who are you??) there are some fascinating takes on traditional items as well to get your mouth watering. Try the Clams Casino and Gnocchi alla Romana with hazelnut pesto, for instance.

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The pastas are all made in-house (some flour charred on the grill, of course) for delectable items like the Fusilli Cacio e Pepe and of course even the aiolis–like those found in the Roasted Scallops with Calamari, Squid Ink, Chard & Smoke Aioli–also spend some time in the heat. Chef Michael Friedman (formerly of Proof) saw to it that the menu incorporated both tradition as well as innovation; The Red Hen’s new beverage program director, Sebastian Zutant (also of Proof), incorporated both into his wine selection, with some extra fun into the cocktails.

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Libations named with a wink and a smile include the Bring out your dead” (rum, sloe gin, sercial madeira, dolin sweet vermouth, lemon juice), the “Real Pain for My Sham Friends…..” (makers mark, honey tea syrup, PX sherry, prosecco, lemon juice) and the “‘Jaws 3’ (Blood in the Water)” (navy proof gin, tonic stuff, ginger beer, lime juice, bitters), among others. It’s clear that team behind The Red Hen takes itself seriously, enjoying the process all the while–and what better incentive to explore a new spot than innovation with a tongue-in-cheek side of humor?

The Red Hen opens tonight, April 16, and serves dinner Tuesday through Sunday with brunch starting soon. Obviously, we can’t wait.

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