The Hazel you know and love tastes a little different. It’s the culinary equivalent of getting a new hair cut or buying a new wardrobe. The things you love about it are still there (the easy, breezy cocktail program, the oh so shareable plates), but everything looks (and tastes) brand new. The catalyst for this change is chef Robert Curtis, who joined the restaurant over the summer and has guided the menu into new territories.
There’s an obvious Mediterranean flair (every meal begins with an order of laffa), but what’s more impressive than the new flavors is the way Curtis has maintained Hazel’s casual coolness. It’s still one of the best places to grab a drink before a 9:30 Club show, meet a date for a nice meal or have dinner with your parents. It’s a comfortable place to fill up on some new bread.
And you will fill up on it, but don’t hold back. Curtis’s laffa is the perfect delivery device for Hazel’s three new dips, the best of which is a lightly spicy and flavor packed zhug, made with roasted garlic, parsley, jalapeños and a mystery mix of aromatic spices. Your best bet is to bounce back and forth between this and the almost refreshing whipped tahini with its deeply nutty flavor.
One of the great things about Hazel’s new menu is its swath of vegetarian items, which means you can A. Bring more of your friends ( or loved ones) with specific diets and B. You can fool yourself into thinking you’re eating healthy. While some of these dishes felt too one note, the veggie section of the menu also contained one of our favorite dishes of the night. The Long Island cheese squash is a surprisingly interesting dish and comes delicately prepared with a rich brown butter, a sprinkle of local feta and enough toasted seeds to add a much needed crunch. The roasted carrots, prepared with a whipped tahini and a drizzle of harissa oil are another favorite, but kennebec potatoes are the real stand out. Served extra crispy and doused in light harissa, it was the one dish that felt hard to share. We wanted all of it to ourselves.
The meat side of the menu is equally stacked. The dirty rice, which is topped with duck confit and a bouquet of pickled peppers feels like something your mom would make if your mom was chef Robert Curtis. It tastes like a family meal from another dimension. If you want to double down on the meat-y goodness, go for the lamb sausage, which sits nicely on a pool of red pepper aioli and is topped with cucumbers, pickled onions and more feta. It’s a rich climax to a meal already so full of flavor.
If your party is big enough (or your feel especially capable) nothing looks and tastes better than the whole roasted fish. Served with all of the onions (powdered with sumac) and winter radishes you could ever dream of, the fish is covered in a lightly spicy yogurt and citrus gremolata that lights up in your mouth. It looks just as good as it tastes and it looks wild.
After that delightful annihilation of your taste buds, wind down with the matcha tart featuring a white chocolate mousse and yuzu curd or dig into the cinnamon rice pudding with its chunks of warm apples. Both will ensure you are asleep the second you crawl in your Lyft.