Sister restaurant to critical darling Contra (and newly-minted best of 2016 restaurant, according to New York Magazine), Wildair is every gastronome’s dream. The succinct menu features simple and approachable ingredients presented in wonderful combinations (jalapeno and burrata, anyone?). It’s fitting that, on Orchard and Rivington, Wildair is part of the LES’ restaurant renaissance—an influx of eclectic spots taking culinary innovation to a whole new level.
Plates priced between $4 and $24 are sized for sharing, meant to foster a casual, communal dining experience. The wine list is extensive—as in 100 different options, with a focus on natural wines from France and Europe (Contra is also known for its extensive natural wine program). The restaurant itself—with high tables, muted interior, and an open kitchen—feels like a culinary laboratory.
Here’s what we recommend:
Little Gem Salad
Stacked leaves of Little Gem lettuce (a sweeter, smaller version of Romaine) are piled high with pistachios, pesto and herbs in this earthy salad. Crunchy lettuce and fresh, herbed dressing make for a refreshing first course.
Sweet Potato & Ricotta
This dish features coins of Japanese sweet potato served over a delicate dollop of ricotta. Tahini and a sprinkling of fresh herbs (a Wildair signature finish) dust the plate, adding a crisp foil to the cheese’s richness.
Georgia White Shrimp
Well seasoned and dressed in Creole-style seasoning, these shrimp are cooked to perfection. They’re served with slivers of celery—something we’d never seen before!—but the veggies are merely background noise. A confident recommendation for seafood lovers and shellfish skeptics alike.
This isn’t your run-of-the-mill calamari. The lightly-fried squid is flavored with spring onion, preserved lemon and basil, then served with a deep black squid ink aioli (it looks intimidating, but is worth a taste—or four). It’s the perfect snack to enjoy with a glass of crisp white wine.
P.S. The bread and oil costs $4 per serving, but they’re worth paying for.
142 Orchard Street
For reservations, call (646) 964-5624 or email email@example.com
By Michaela Rollings.
Header image via NYTimes.com.