Two of my closest friends from grade school were in town last night, so my fellow New Yorker friend Sonia and I decided to take them to a well known, quintessentially Manhattan-trendy hot spot: Stanton Social. They absolutely loved it. With the overload of tapas style food options on the menu, an outstanding cocktail list, a vibrant (though quite loud), upbeat vibe, and surprisingly friendly service, the restaurant turned out to impress my friends just as I had hoped.
We of course started the night out with a selection off of the extensive and creative cocktail list. Per Sonia’s suggestion, I had the pink grapefruit mint martini with a hint of lemon simple syrup. Delicious, and quite dangerous, as I consumed it within minutes. I also tried the cucumber-vanilla cosmopolitan made with white cranberry juice. Though this was a little too sweet for my taste, my friends Gillian and Carolyn love it. My favorite of the night, however, was the blood orange-jalapeno margarita – perfect for those who like a little kick in their cocktail.
We were then told to order at least 6 menu items for three of us and an additional 3 for my gluten allergic friend who was thrilled to learn they had an entire gluten free menu (which was filled with options that I wanted to order as well!). After ordering our options, our friendly waitress brought out an amuse bouche of lobster goat cheese crostini. Very light and tasty, but nothing too special.
We then started with the hand pulled chicken arepas with jalapeno salsa. These were beautifully presented and quite a hit among the group. Not your typical sandwich-style arepa, these were more of a twist on the Venezuelan classic, but delicious nonetheless.
For our next round we tasted their famous French Onion Soup dumplings, interestingly served in an escargot dish. I often associate my loved ones with particular dishes I know they would amaze their taste buds. The instant I tasted this burst of french onion soup, an image of my father popped into my head – as a french onion soup connoisseur, he would obsess over these (as did Sonia). You’re supposed to pop the gruyere-encased dumpling in its entirety in your mouth; accompanied by a small crouton, it tastes exactly like a burst of the classic cheese laden soup we know and love. Wonderfully creative and flavorful.Next, we had another big hit – the Potato and Goat Cheese Pierogies. I’ve never tried a pierogie, so I’m not the best critic of these Russian classics, but I can safely say that the ones at Stanton Social are delicious. The best part about the dish, though, was the truffle creme fraiche served on the side – I could have eaten this by the spoonful!
Next we had an item off of the gluten free menu – Red Snapper Tacos. This was a light dish, perfect for summer. A great mix of flavors and textures, and I would definitely order this again.
At this point, we were full, but there was no turning back as we had already placed our order. Out came the Cider and BBQ Baby Back Ribs, the Gluten Free Chicken, the Butter Poached Lobster Pizzetta with truffled marscopone and bacon bits, and the Steamed Sea Bass with Mushrooms and Ginger. I’m not a rib fan, but my friends raved about these as the meat literally fell off the bone. The Gluten free chicken was perfectly crisp and atop a healthy portion of delicious garlicky sauteed spinach – this was my personal favorite. The lobster pizzetta and the fish, on the other hand, were two misses of the night – I couldn’t taste one ounce of lobster on the pizza, and the fish was overwhelmed by a sweet cinnamon spice not indicated on the menu description. I would definitely not order these two options again.
The disappointing main dishes were however soon forgotten after our Chocolate Tasting – a tray of house-made chocolate items, from a triple layered chocolate mousse to a chocolate dulce de leche ice cream. The house made chocolate hazelnut truffles were decadent, and I couldn’t stop taking spoonfuls of the light chocolate flan-like dish (on the left).
With all things considered, Stanton Social is a great place, especially for out of towners who are looking for an epitomizing NYC hot spot and would like to make dinner the event of the night. Great for pre-party bites. The atmosphere is energizing yet intrusive, so don’t come here expecting a romantic evening. Instead, know that you’ll leave the restaurant ready to hit the town and dance the night away (if you’re not too full).
Address: 99 Stanton Street between Orchard and Ludlow.
Food grade: B+
Overall grade: A