Cititour: The New York Guide to Events, Restaurants, Music, and Nightlife

Ditch Plains

Ditch Plains

Cuisine: Seafood

Cititour Review: Last summer, I was dating a guy who was way into surfing; he was quite impressive with a wave and a board. He had just moved here from California so he was adjusting to the East Coast waves that were nothing like those out in Newport Beach and Baja. But he often spoke of a spot out in Montauk with a far away look in his eyes. It was called Ditch Plains. I watched him surf one day last July. It was amazing. And it was quite a dose of foreplay. Let’s just say he had me at “Honey, I’ve just gotta go get my long board.” Yeah, I was pretty much done. Anyway, the guy and I split up later that summer (there were issues that all the sexy surfing in the world were not going to fix), but the surf’s still hot and high out at Ditch Plains. And here on Bedford Street there’s another Ditch Plains, this one from chef Marc Murphy (Landmarc) who has whipped up a fierce little surf shack serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner—a perfect spot for those who like the idea of surfing but who would rather use it as an aphrodisiac than a sport. Like a sweet swell of a wave, Ditch Plains can work its magic. The space is cool and urbane, with a buzzing bar backed with flat screens TVs displaying surfers in all their white water glory. The room is wrapped in windows and swathed in steel with long dark wood booths, and a kitchen line secreted behind a wall with the a thin line of sight carved out that gives the room a peek-a-boo effect. It’s the sort of room that feels cool and sexy, the sort of place that makes you feel like hanging around for a while, and tossing back a few Spicy Coronas, the house beer cocktail—a brilliant combination of Corona, tequila, and a hit of Tabasco over ice ($9). The first night I had dinner at Ditch Plains the kitchen was on it. We started with oyster shooters ($15): fat and briny and flushed with the sea in a spicy Tabasco sauce topped with a measure of vodka. We also shared a basket of great smoked mozzarella fritters—so hot and melting that we pulled them apart like warm taffy and then dipped them into a spicy pulpy tomato dipping sauce ($9). A salmon tartare was nice as well ($11)—glossy dice of salmon tossed with red onion, herbs, and lemon confit—though the presentation was a bit sloppy, just sort of tossed down on a white bread plate. Fried clam strips are another good starter, though they are served with a slightly too sweet tarter sauce ($15). Can’t say a thing about the roasted oysters other than keep the cardiologist on call—these are wet with the sea and served like escargot topped with herbs and puddles of melted drawn butter over crusty bread ($15). They’re your yearly allowance of butter in one shot. Another night when I headed over for a late dinner with friends after seeing An Inconvenient Truth (a must see), we started out with fried green tomatoes—silver dollar slices in a cloak of crunchy breading served with a homemade Thousand Island dressing that brought me back to meals at my Dad’s apartment as a kid. (His idea of salad was a bowl of iceberg and a turned over bottle of Thousand Island dressing.) The spicy crispy calamari salad ($12) was just also quite good—crunchy rings of squid tossed over mixed greens with a hot and spicy peanut dressing. The Ditch Plains burger was just what you want in a burger—a full flavored patty, similar in heft and style to Shake Shack, on a soft bun topped with leaf lettuce, tomato, onion and pickles ($12). While it’s not ideal for summer, I also loved the chicken potpie ($17)—filled with tons of butter-tender pulled chicken and vegetables and capped with a flaky buttermilk biscuit crust. But the waves crashed down on top of us when we got the lobster roll ($23)—it was just a wipe out. While there was a lot of meat in the roll, it was so flavorless as to be on par with tofu salad. The roll was soggy, the mayo was sort of runny and could barely contain limp cubes of celery. It was oddly bad. Hopefully, it was an aberration, not the rule. But my friend’s omelet was light and fluffy and stuffed with spinach, tomatoes and smoked mozzarella cheese ($9). The rosemary and bacon mussels ($14), which were listless and flavorless on one visit, were quite good on another visit: plump and savory and set in a rich aromatic broth bobbing with lovely smoky lardons (but please sir, can we have some more lardons?). Fries ($6) were crispy and golden and while there were enough for four, I hogged the basket and may have eaten them all. (BAD GIRL!) I tried to redeem my fry-fest with a healthier main course, the grilled fish of the day—a luscious slab of artic char, grilled so its skin was like a crust and its flesh was pink and moist ($M/P). It made me feel a bit more virtuous than when I was elbow deep in frites. For dessert, we had a few slices of pie (sour cream apple and key lime) from the Little Pie Company ($9 a slice), that were served with a can of whipped cream, a touch that got some flak in the Times, but I think it’s a lot of fun. Sure, the real stuff is fabulous, but this is a surf shack not Per Se, and a sense of humor is always a good thing. And maybe that’s the thing about Ditch Plains—it’s a lot of fun. And I guess in a way it’s sort of like surfing. You get in the water, the sun’s on your face; you may miss a ride or two, but it’s all good. And there are cold Spicy Coronas waiting. Sweet.
Review By: Andrea Strong

Neighborhood: West Village

Ditch Plains
29 Bedford St (Downing St)
New York, NY
(212) 633-0202

Entree Price: $15-20