Chez Sardine, Gabe Stulman's "Very Inauthentic Japanese " is the West Village's Newest Must-Eat Spot 

SSPNY Gives Rave Reviews to Gabe Stulman's New Must-Eat Spot Chez Sardine in West Village!

SSPNY checks out restauranteur Gabe Stulman's new Japanese Isakaya, Chez Sardine in the West Village Located on West 10th Street and admits it's an absolute must

If restauranteur Gabe Stulman didn't exist, the West Village would have to invent him. Or at least, they would definitely want to, for neighborhood dining in this part of town would be a far less interesting affair if Stulman hadn't shown up here from Wisconsin in the early-aughts and proceed to launch a string of what have quickly become everyone's favorite local restaurants. Just look at Stulman's track record. Over the past seven or so years, beginning with Little Owl and Market Table and now with his Wisco Group spots, the uniformly excellent Joseph Leonard, Jeffrey's Grocery, Fedora, and Perla, Stulman and his exceptional team of chefs have consistently hit it out the park. All of these places are within a half mile of each other. All feed lively mobs of happy customers night after night after night. All are can't-miss ideas for any occasion involving friends, sweethearts, family, and fun.

SSPNY snags a sushi-counter seat at Chez Sardine to try out a few dishes of Stulman and Chef Mehdi Brunet-Benkritly's Japanese-ish menu options including the Pork and Unagi Hand Roll from the menu's "snack" section.

No surprise, then, that Stulman's latest effort, the spanking-new Chez Sardine on West 10th Street, is another total winner. Part of it has to do with Stulman and Co.'s trademark blend of casual, homey comfort with a dash or two of romance and surprise. But a bigger part may be Stulman's latest recruit, Chef Mehdi Brunet-Benkritly, late of Montreal's justifiably legendary Au Pied de Cochon, which by the way also spawned Chef Hugue Dufour of the superb M. Wells Dinette at MoMA PS1. Anyway, I was lucky enough to snag a sushi-counter seat early the other evening and try a few items from Brunet-Benkritly's Japanese-ish Chez Sardine menu. The bottom line: I loved everything I ate, and can't wait to go back for more.

Another outstanding order SSPNY made on Chez Sardine's menu was the Beef Tartare, a generous "Small Plate" with rich, raw, coarsely-ground meat against the piles of fresh horseradish, dabs of biting " lime cream", bitter greens and hunks of buttered bread

There's a number of individual sushi offerings on the Chez Sardine menu, usually with a twist (Hamachi with Chicharron, Sea Urchin with Chopped Beef), and they all sound and look terrific. I went with the Pork and Unagi Hand Roll from the menu's "snack" section and was rewarded with a luscious, four-bite treat, the melty, sweet eel pairing beautifully with the melty, sweet swine, both complemented by the chewy rice and briny nori wrap. Also outstanding was the Beef Tartare, a generous "Small Plate", the rich, raw, coarsely-ground meat holding its own nicely against the piles of fresh horseradish, dabs of biting " lime cream", bitter greens and craggy hunks of buttered bread. But the highlight of the evening was Chez Sardine's menu centerpiece, the Miso-Maple Salmon Head, which is exactly that: half a head, stuffed with garlic, sticky with sweet (but not too-sweet) sauce, grilled to caramelization. It takes some work, this dish, and a willingness to get messy (and, not incidentally, to dig through the inside of a fish head), but there's enough intensely-flavored meat--if you're sharing, make sure you grab the cheek--and fatty skin to make it worth the effort. So thanks again, Mr. Stulman, and welcome to neighborhood, Chef Brunet-Benkritly.

SSPNY lastly orders Chez Sardine's menu centerpiece, the Miso-Maple Salmon Head, which is a half a head, stuffed with garlic, sticky with sweet sauce, grilled to caramelization and perfection.

Chez Sardine is located on West 10th Street just west of Seventh Avenue South, and is open Sunday and Tuesday from 5:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. and on Wednesday through Saturday from 5:30 to 1:00 a.m. Closed Monday. Lots more info, including a look at the complete Chez Sardine menu, here.

Chez Sardine is located on West 10th Street just west of Seventh Avenue South, and is open Sunday and Tuesday from 5:30 to 11pm and on Wednesday through Saturday from 5:30 to 1am brand new to the West Village

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