It's cute, it's new and it trumpets the "craft, comfort and locally sourced" litany. Mostly, it's highly successful starting with the relatively small, cozy space that will open onto scenic Second Avenue when warm weather arrives. Inside Copper Kettle Kitchen, from the team behind the departed Spigolo and The Gilroy, are brick walls, cutouts of farm animals and terrific light fixtures with visible filaments casting an orangey glow. Waiters in plaid shirts (rustic, get it?) are sweet and pretty helpful although you don't need a guide to deal with the menu.
Craft beers (Dead Guy Ale from Oregon, Toasted Lager from Long Island) are popular and there's the obligatory list of cocktails with clever names. My Truffled Hunt "martini: with Spring 44 vodka, Tuscan white truffle, dry vermouth and orange bitters was far too sweet to have cut it with James Bond but the Petit Syrah was an excellent choice as are the rest of the well-curated wines. In a Nutshell is the Copper Kettle take on an old fashioned with corn whisky, cane syrup and bitters. Want soda? Expect an artisanal version, here Harmony Springs Natural in flavors such as black cherry sarsaparilla, lemon, cream and seltzer. The bartender sports a lot of style and could make it on the cover of GQ.
Everything is fresh and nicely thought through. The menu is divided into Dips and Flats for the Table, Greens & Grains, Daily Presses (aka, sandwiches), Comforts, and Features for Two. Among the standouts: grilled octopus in a swirl of frisee; meatless eggplant 'meatballs' pooled in an intense tomato sauce and a "Noble Pork sandwich" with pork and charred broccoli rabe pressed between buttery, almost crispy slices of focaccia . The large white Corona beans with the octopus were in need of additional cooking as they were way ahead of al dente; otherwise, all are winners. Another flavorful option is the braised lamb shank, meltingly tender, accompanied by pureed butternut squash and Brussels sprouts. Other menu items that sound appealing include fennel sausage with crushed tomatoes, provolone and caramelized onions. Among desserts, the brownie sitting on peanut sauce is good; the sticky toffee cake less successful.
At brunch, enjoy lemon ricotta pancakes; slow-roasted short ribs with poached eggs, beech mushrooms and gremolata; brisket hash with two eggs up and tomato marmalade; and grits made cheesy with sharp cheddar served with poached eggs. In general, portions are smallish--perfect from my POV but some may differ.
Copper Kettle Kitchen is open Monday–Thursday from 5pm to 11pm, Friday and Saturday from 5pm to midnight and Sunday evenings from 5pm to9pm. Brunch and lunch are available Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4pm. Mondays-Fridays from 5 to 7 pm is Happy Hour.
Should you want to host a party here, you'd have to take over the entire space. Ask. This is welcome addition to the UES always in need of new eating venues.