|Imagine Bar & Grill|
112 First Ave (6th & 7th Sts)
New York, NY, 10009
Menu: View the Menu
Only the steamiest of New York days kept me from the beautiful, large backyard garden at Imagine Bar & Grill, the four-month-old eatery on the site of the old Miracle Grill in the East Village. Lush and inviting, the garden -- half of which has a canopy that can provide shade in the summer and heat in the winter – is a true Manhattan treasure.Review By: Brian Scott Lipton
But this patch of city greenery is far from the sole reason to pay a visit to Imagine, where chef Adriano Flor, who also helmed the kitchen at Miracle, has been given free reign to pursue his own culinary imagination by the new owners, Joanna and Duane Analzone. The result, which is primarily southwestern, is mostly delicious and full of strong flavors.
The same can be said of the house’s superb cocktails and sangrias, which are made with fresh juices including blood orange, passion fruit, and white peach. Of course, they’re also slightly dangerous; so it’s not an altogether bad idea to order the chips and good guacamole to provide some sustenance.
On the other hand, don’t fill up on those chips, since the portions here are exceedingly generous – especially given the modest prices. (The appetizers all were below $10 and only the steak entrée exceed the $20 mark). Moreover, we didn’t see an appetizer that couldn’t serve two diners or make a perfectly fine dinner. If possible, bring a big group to maximize sharing possibilities. The don’t miss starter was a trio of exceedingly plump grilled sea scallops set atop golden beets and sliced mango and topped with a peppery chili-cream sauce. Somewhat lighter and healthier, and surprisingly appealing, was a baked summer roll, consisting of spinach tortilla filled with chunks of perfectly cooked shrimp, baby bok choy, sprouts and carrots.
The house’s grilled beef salad, far more Thai than Taos, was the perfect antidote to the summer’s stifling heat, thanks to large cubes of papaya, fresh mint leaves, and a veritable slew of cashews mingling with the beef in a gentle soy vinaigrette. I’d come back too for an excellent filet of halibut atop one enormous fried green tomato, but I’d ask Flor to hold the cream sauce. And in slightly cooler weather, the chile relleno -- a beautifully fried poblano pepper stuffed with chicken and Monterrey Jack cheese and napped in a charred tomato sauce – would absolutely hit the spot.
Between the heat and our gluttony, we could only manage one dessert: a melon-flavored flan accompanied by fresh whipped cream and berries that was mercifully not too sweet.
In fact, it’s just what we imagined we wanted.
Neighborhood: East Village
Chef: Adriano Flor
Entree Price: $15-20
Payment: Amex Visa Mastercard