I’ve only heard great things about Freeman’s, and after my meal there yesterday, I can finally see why. Ambiance is just second to food quality in my list of crucial restaurant features, and Freeman’s fits the build of my opinion of ambiance perfection. Tucked away at the end of a cobblestone alley, identifiable by only a string of soft white lights and a square-windowed storefront (San Franciscans, think Notte), the restaurant is a little gem in a somewhat no-man’s-land between Bowery and Christie.
Its interior is even more gorgeous. Walls are lined with unique antique-framed photos and a sporadic placement of taxidermy (odd but adds to the rustic feel) – and though there’s not much room between tables, there is ample hang out space for those waiting for a table or lingering for a drink: two bars in fact!
Note that while its somewhat hidden location adds to its mystique, it also requires you to come fully prepared with explicit directions – despite a Google Maps image on my phone screen, my taxi driver and I circled the block 3 times before succumbing to asking a fellow New Yorker for help. Fortunately, the food and the experience made it worth the trouble.
Freeman’s doesn’t generally take reservations for small parties, but my friend and Freeman’s employee Janet was kind enough to set aside a table for me and my friend Lauren, which was fortunate considering the growing crowd around 7pm. While deciding on our menu choices, I sipped on one of the great selections of white wines by the glass, and Lauren had one of their inventive cocktails – conveniently organized by type on the menu (dark and stormy, light and crisp, etc). We were told that the menu had recently changed, so most of the staff admitted they lacked honest recommendations, so Lauren and I just went for what sounded best. We started with their famous artichoke dip, which was sinfully cheesy and creamy in the center and perfectly crusty on top, and served warm with thick slices of toasted baguette. NOT for the lactose intolerant (too bad I am), but delicious nonetheless.
Can’t remember what the fish was laying on, but it was something light and airy – like a denser popcorn. Both dishes were well priced, perfectly portioned, non-complex, and delicious. The food is not the type that makes you go home feeling heavy – which I loved.
For dessert, Lauren and I shared the chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream (and were VERY tempted to get the sticky toffee pudding but resisted). Although the ice cream was almost entirely melted, the chocolate fudge sauce and old fashioned style of the dark chocolate cake won back our praise.
Overall, Freeman’s is a casual, cozy, and quaint find with tons of atmosphere, personality, inventive cocktails, and affordable, straight forward yet delicious food. Great for a fun group, a catch up with a friend, or a romantic, care-free date. Its versatility is makes it a standout – it really has the potential to please anyone from a high class snob to a lower east side hipster. Nice work Freeman’s, and thanks again for the reso Cuisson!!
Location: Freeman’s Alley in Lower East Side